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June 22, 2006 

Emerald Ash Borer Hits Illinois Suburbs

Think the Asian long-horned beetle was bad?

You ain't seen nothin' yet, officials warn in announcing the first finding of an emerald ash borer in Illinois.

The shiny green beetle, which has wiped out 20 million U.S. ash trees since 2002 -- 15 million in Michigan alone -- was found last week by a homeowner near Lily Lake in Kane County.

By contrast, the long-horned bug killed about 1,500 trees in Illinois, the vast majority in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood. It hasn't been found here since 2003, and if still not seen by 2008 will be officially declared gone from the state.


Has fatally feasted on more than 20 million U.S. trees -- 15 million in Michigan alone. Indiana and Ohio also have lost trees.

Attacks only ash trees -- green ash and white ash and two uncommon species, the blue ash and black ash. (Not sure you have an ash? Visit

Is much harder to catch than the Asian long-horned beetle. It's only a half-inch long, bright green but less noticeable in shadows and flies readily; the long-horned is over an inch, white with black spots and slow-moving.

Is also harder to detect. The borer's D-shaped exit hole in a tree is only about one-sixth the size of the dime-sized hole left by the bigger beetle.

Attacks tops of trees

Like the Asian long-horned, the ash borer came from China.

It is harder to find. It measures only half an inch, less than half the length of the long-horned insect. The exit hole it leaves in trees is about one-sixth as big as the dime-size hole of the bigger bug.

Moreover, "it tends to attack the top of a tree," said Philip Nixon, a University of Illinois Extension entomologist. "It can be in a tree two or three years before you see it."

One in five trees in the Chicago area is an ash, and in some towns it's as high as 30 percent, said tree expert Edith Makra of the Morton Arboretum. Unless the borer is stopped, "the visual effect and the impact on quality of life is going to be pretty heavy," she said.

Her Morton colleague, entomologist Fredric Miller, said: "Some of these trees are 30, 40, 50 years old. None of us will see [replacement trees] reach this size in our lifetime." Cutting, chipping and replacing the trees will be costly, he added.

Some experts say tree devastation could rival Dutch elm disease, Miller said.
Fast-growing ash -- often planted in place of dead elms -- are found from Maine to the Rocky Mountains and parts of the West Coast.

May have arrived in firewood

Five additional ash borers were found through Monday on four properties near the initial discovery, said Warren Goetsch of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The borer probably got here in firewood transported from Michigan.

Within two weeks, after a survey to see how widespread the infestation is, a public hearing will be held and homeowners, tree trimmers, nurseries and firewood dealers could be barred from moving ash wood out of a quarantined area, Goetsch said. By two weeks after that, all Illinois property owners could be ordered to destroy infested trees.

People who think they've seen an emerald ash borer are asked to call 800/641-3934.

Back to News/Press Releases >> Source: Lawn and Landscape Mag
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