A destructive insect pest that has killed millions of ash trees around the country has been found in Morrison, Ill., the closest find in the state to the Iowa border so far, Illinois officials said Monday.
The site is about 15 miles from Clinton and about 45 from the Quad-Cities.
The emerald ash borer beetle in question was collected on the Whiteside County fairgrounds in Morrison after an alert forestry technician with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources spotted a distressed ash tree on the property and notified the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Ag officials found a dead adult beetle in the tree's bark.
Whether there are any more infested trees in the area is not yet known.
"We have been monitoring traps throughout Whiteside and its neighboring counties," emerald ash borer program manager Scott Schirmer said. "Thus far, the infestation appears highly localized."
The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic-green beetle native to Asia. Its larvae burrow into the bark of ash trees, causing them to essentially starve and eventually die. Since its first detection near Detroit in 2002, it has killed millions of ash trees.
Last week, Iowa officials confirmed an infestation in Burlington, the second one confirmed in the state. The other is in Allamakee County in the far northeast corner of Iowa. The invasive insect was first found there in 2010.
Besides Morrison, the closest confirmed infestations to the Quad-Cities are in Galesburg and Kewanee, Ill., both about 45-50 miles away.
The city of Davenport began treating some of its better ash trees with resistance chemicals this spring, and many homeowners are doing the same. Many believe the insect may already be here, just undetected.
University Extension services do not recommend treatment until an infestation is confirmed within 15 miles.
Most infestations of emerald ash borer have been caused by people unknowingly moving infested firewood, nursery plants and sawmill logs across county and state lines.