MORRISON, Ill. — A destructive pest responsible for killing millions of ash trees in North America has been discovered for the first time in Whiteside County, the closest find to date in Illinois to the Iowa border.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced Monday it has received confirmation that a beetle collected on the county fairgrounds in Morrison is an emerald ash borer.
An alert forestry technician with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources spotted a distressed ash tree on the property and notified IDOA staff, who found a dead, adult beetle in its bark. The beetle was submitted to the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which confirmed it as an emerald ash borer.
"We have monitoring traps throughout Whiteside and its neighboring counties," emerald ash borer program manager Scott Schirmer said. "Thus far, the infestation appears highly localized. In fact, we have not even been able to confirm EAB in any other ash trees on the property."
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. Since the first detection of the pest near Detroit, Mich., in 2002, it has killed more than 25 million ash trees.
The beetle often is difficult to detect, especially in newly-infested trees. Signs of infestation include thinning and yellowing leaves, D-shaped holes in the bark of the trunk or branches and basal shoots. Anyone who suspects an ash tree has been infested should contact their county Extension office, their village forester or the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Forty-one Illinois counties currently are under quarantine to prevent the artificial or "human-assisted" spread of the beetle through the movement of infested wood and nursery stock.