State officials hold a seminar to raise awareness about the pest that feeds on ash trees and is showing up in more Illinois counties.


State agricultural officials could add LaSalle County to a quarantine list as part of an effort to minimize the spread of a pest that devastates ash trees.


 


The emerald ash borer was spotted recently in Peru. The Illinois Department of Agriculture held a seminar Wednesday at Illinois Valley Community College to discuss the problem with LaSalle County officials.


 


"We’re going to continue to do surveys (of the area)," IDA nursery program manager Mark Cinnamon said. "We urge all communities in the area to look at their ash trees, because it’s only a matter of time before it reaches your community."


 


The department announced last month that larvae of the non-native pest had been found in trees just north of Peru at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Illinois Route 251.


 


Cinnamon said the insect hides in the wood of the ash trees and is spread through the movement of firewood and landscape debris. Illinois has 70 solid waste transfer facilities and 24 compost facilities, which may explain how the insect was found off I-80.


 


Once an area has been quarantined, no infected items can pass outside a designated border, officials said at Wednesday’s seminar. These items may include ash trees of any size, bark and wood chips larger than one inch from an ash tree, and the insect itself in any stage of development.


 


In 2002, the emerald ash borer was found in four counties in Michigan. Less than five years later, it had spread to the lower part of Michigan.


In Illinois, the pest has been found in Kane, Kendall, DuPage and northern Cook counties, which have been quarantined.


 


Chris Canning, president of the village of Wilmette, spoke Wednesday about the impact of the small, metallic green beetle and what his community did to attack the problem. State agriculture officials told Canning last July that the pest had been found in Wilmette. Since then, Wilmette has worked with neighboring communities, as well as state and federal officials to remove 119 trees from the community at a cost of about $2.5 million.


 


Canning urged communities to designate a person who is knowledgeable about the spread and warning signs of the pest and come up with a plan to pay for the removal, disposal and reforesting of ash trees.


 



Reach Journal Star reporter Tara Becker at (309) 686-3041 or state@pjstar.com.