Emerald Ash Borer Terrorizing Central Illinois Trees

Local Experts Work on a Proactive Plan

PEORIA, Ill. - You may soon have fewer spots to find shelter from the sun in central Illinois. A lot of trees in the Peoria  and Tazewell County area may have to come down very soon.

The issues are caused by the elusive, tiny pest: the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).

“It's been slowly moving across the state and unfortunately it's here,” said Rhonda Ferree, of the University of Illinois Extension. She told WMBD that the Asian beetle was confirmed in the area in 2014.

Representatives from the extension office, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and Peoria Park District were just a few of the people who met at Grandview Park on Monday afternoon.

They taught the public, landscaping professionals, and park officials about the growing EAB infestation.

 “As a borer, they're going to be down in the wood,” explained Scott Schirmer. He’s the Plant and Pesticide Supervisor for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “There still might be some flying around [this summer], but they lay their eggs on the bark and then as those eggs hatch they go down into the tree.”

That wasn't a problem at this event. Experts scaled back parts of trees tagged as hosting the metallic green bug. They used tweezers to remove larvae and said each adult can lay 40-80 eggs, spreading the  problem like wildfire.

“The populations grow really quickly to the point where we might find it in a tree like this and then 3 years later every tree in the area is completely dead,” said Schirmer.

These bugs are tinier than a penny and it can be hard knowing if they’re breeding inside your Ash Tree. Thinning canopies, leaves losing color before fall, D-shaped holes, and increased woodpecker activity are just a few signs, according to Schirmer.

“And then we'll see some bark splits as well where the larvae has be burrowing back and forth and creates kind of gap,” Schirmer continued.  

The Emerald Ash Borer can't be completely wiped out, but the hope is that planning now will prevent further problems.

“What we've seen in other towns is that you have to cut them down all at once,” said Ferree. “So, we want to make sure they have a plan because that's very costly.”

“One of the few guarantees for this whole thing is if you don't do anything your Ash is probably going to die,” Schirmer said.

Peoria Park District officials told WMBD they're seeing decline in their ash trees and expect more. They're working on a plan to cut down infested trees as well as a replanting plan.

 


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