The emerald ash borer, an exotic insect that kills ash trees, has been confirmed in a golf course in Kewanee, Ill., about 50 miles from the Quad-Cities, just a little bit closer than the previous infestation found in November in Stark County, Ill.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that the Kewanee insect was found Aug. 30 in Baker Park Golf Course in one of many traps set up statewide by the department to track the pest’s spread.
Scott Schirmer, emerald ash borer program director for the department, said he estimates that 15 to 20 ash trees are infested at the course and another 20 to 25 are infested within a quarter-mile.
Depending on how much dieback a tree has, caretakers could treat the trees with chemicals in hopes of saving them, or they could remove them to slow the spread of the insect, Schirmer said.
Brian Johnson, director of the park district, a separate taxing entity from the city, declined comment.
The emerald ash borer was confirmed in Iowa in 2010 in Allamakee County in the far northeast corner of the state, and no further infestations have been found.
But that doesn’t mean the insect hasn’t spread; it simply means the borer hasn’t been found and identified.
Kurt Meyer of Meyer Landscape & Design, Moline, said it is his company’s opinion that “just because it hasn’t been confirmed in the Quad-Cities, it is so close that it is most likely here already.
“We recommend treating with a preventative as soon as feasible next spring,” he said.
Schirmer, of the state’s emerald ash borer program, said that “with the way detections are going, it is possible that by the time (an infestation has) been found, it’s been there for four or five years.
“It really can’t be too early to treat,” he said.
University Extension services have discouraged people from treating trees unless an infestation has been found within 15 miles.
In addition to Kewanee, the Illinois agriculture department on Wednesday also confirmed an infestation for the first time in Lee County, in an industrial area of Dixon, about 70 miles from the Quad-Cities.
A lawn care worker on the landscaped site reported that four ash trees were in decline, Schirmer said.
The infestation in Dixon doesn’t appear to be so widespread as in Kewanee, and the owners of the industrial site plan to treat the trees in an effort to save them, he said.
The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic-green beetle native to Asia. Its larvae burrow into the bark of ash trees, causing the trees to starve and eventually die.
Currently, 39 Illinois counties are under quarantine to prevent the man-made spread of the beetle. Henry County, where Kewanee is located, isn’t quarantined yet, but will be, Schirmer said.
The quarantine prohibits the intrastate movement of potentially contaminated wood products, including ash trees, limbs and branches and all types of firewood.
Meanwhile, Schirmer encourage residents of Henry County to put the quarantine guidelines into practice by making sure not to transport any firewood or untreated wood products outside their county of origin. “I’d also encourage tree companies, villages and cities to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations pertaining to the processing and transporting of ash materials,” he said.
The emerald ash borer is difficult to detect, especially in newly infested trees. Signs of infestation include the presence of metallic-green beetles about half the diameter of a penny on or around ash trees, thinning and yellowing leaves, D-shaped holes in the bark of the trunk or branches and basal shoots.
Since the beetle was first confirmed in the Midwest in the summer of 2002, it has killed more than 25 million ash trees.
EAB TREATMENT OPTIONS
Several companies have been providing preventative emerald ash borer treatment in the Quad-Cities. Various chemicals are available.
Kurt Meyer of Meyer Landscape & Design, Moline, recommends a product called Tree-age that must be applied by a licensed applicator and is good for three years.
The cost ranges from $95-$125 for a tree with a 4-6 inch caliper (diameter of the trunk at chest height) to $280 to $300 for a tree with a 22- to 24-inch caliper, he said.
Other products are available for homeowner use.
Normally treatment might be done in fall, but not this year. Because of the drought, trees are not taking up water and already have gone into dormancy, Scott Schirmer, emerald ash borer program manager for the Illinois Department of Agriculture said. Now the best bet is April.
Phil Nixon, an entomologist at the University of Illinois, has said that as long as three-fourths of a tree still looks good, you should be able to save it. But if more than 50 percent of the tree’s canopy is lost, it’s too late, he said.
Removal is another control method.
IF YOU SUSPECT EAB
Anyone who suspects a tree may be infested is urged to contact their county University Extension office.
Scott County: 563-359-7577
Clinton County: 563-659-5125
Muscatine County: 563-263-5701
Rock Island/Henry/Mercer/Stark counties: 309-756-9978
FOR MORE INFORMATION
There is no lack of information about the emerald ash borer. Here are some good online sources.