Communities Prep For Emerald Ash Borer - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Communities Prep For Emerald Ash Borer

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     Under quarantine thanks to the emerald ash borer. Both Henry and Knox counties are now on the list of more than 40 Illinois counties with confirmed infestations. The green beetles are wreaking havoc on millions of ash trees in the Midwest.
     In Illinois the boundary of the quarantine areas affects anyone handling firewood from county to county. The beetles have spread to a handful of states surrounding Michigan where the bugs originally came to in 2002. Now many more areas are preparing to deal with it.
     The emerald ash borer's appetite for the bark of ash trees is ample. "They wake up in the spring and  they start chewing through the tree, leave the little squiggly lines and come out as adults," said Tracy Mulliken, a horticulture, agriculture, and natural resource coordinator for University of Illinois Extension. The organization offers programs to educate the public on the nuisance insect.
    "By the time you realize there's damage to your tree, you'll see die out in the top of your ash tree, the bug has been in there for about three to 5 years," said Mulliken.
     An infestation was found in Galesburg recently which led to the quarantine status for Knox County. Now the city is coming up with an action plan and Mulliken says many other municipalities are preparing for problems too.
    "They're doing inventory on their trees, they're making plans for what's going to happen. Are they going to try to save these trees, are they going to try to replace them," she added.
     Treatment and/or removal can be costly. The bugs can eat the bark to the point of brittle limbs becoming a hazard. Things to look out for are discoloration and die back at the top of the tree, little D-shaped holes in the bark, and snake-like tunnels under the surface.
     Mulliken says what the average person should be concerned about now is awareness and prevention of spreading the beetle.  "The biggest thing the public can do is to not move their firewood. It's us determining how fast they move. Michigan, if you look at the neighborhoods where they came in, they were neighborhoods completely lined with ash trees and they're all gone."
     Firewood cannot be moved outside of many states including Illinois because of a federal EAB quarantine. The insects haven't spread much into Iowa, but in October the DNR did find trees infested in Allamakee County.