Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator
The dreaded Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) continues to cause havoc across Central Illinois. All four of the counties that I cover as a Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension are included in the quarantine area, which includes Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. Quarantine guidelines state that we cannot transport any ash tree firewood or untreated ash wood products outside their county of origin.
The borer was confirmed in Peoria and Tazewell counties last summer. I have looked at trees with Elizabeth Burns from USDA/APHIS a few times this summer, including one in Canton. The Canton tree did not have the borer, but we do suspect it is there somewhere.
To determine if a tree has been attacked, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Martha Smith suggests the following steps.
First, identify the tree. Emerald Ash Borer attacks only members of the Fraxinus genus, or true ash. On true ashes, buds, leaves, and branches form directly opposite one another on the twig or branch. If they do not, the tree is not a true ash and the EAB cannot attack it. The most common types of ash in Illinois are green, white, blue, black, and pumpkin ash. Some names are misleading -- for example, mountain ash is not a true ash. It is a member of the Sorbus genus and cannot be attacked by EAB.
Second, start to look for signs of decline, starting in the upper third of the tree canopy. If the tree looks unhealthy, look for D-shaped holes about the size of a BB. Anything round or larger has not been caused by EAB.
If bark on the trunk is splitting, lift it and look underneath. Snake-like tunneling under the bark may indicate the presence of EAB. Young sprout growth clustered at the base of the tree may also indicate EAB.
MEET THE AUTHOR
As horticulture educator, Rhonda Ferree inspired citizens in local communities to grow their own food and improve their home landscapes. She focused on high quality, impactful programs that taught homeowners how to create energy-efficient landscapes using sustainable practices that increase property values and help the environment.
After 30 years with University of Illinois Extension, Rhonda retired in 2018. She continues to share her passion for horticulture related topics as “Retro Rhonda” on social media.
ABOUT THE BLOG
ILRiverHort is a blog that helps people connect to nature and grow.