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Nasty bug spotted in Wilmette

Friday, July 14, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by LISA DONOVAN Staff Reporter


BY State agriculture officials confirm the pest spotted in a Wilmette yard earlier this week is that of the tree-killing emerald ash borer, and inspectors say that more than a dozen other trees are likely infested.
It is the second time this summer the insect -- not to be mistaken for the Asian long-horned beetle that devoured trees in several of Chicago's North Side neighborhoods -- has been spotted in the Chicago suburbs, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Last month, the emerald ash borer was discovered in Kane County.
The penny-sized, shiny metallic green beetle has wiped out 20 million U.S. ash trees since 2002, including 15 million in Michigan.
According to state agriculture officials, the pest's larvae burrow into the bark of ash trees, causing the trees to starve and eventually die.
Extensive survey to begin Monday
A Wilmette resident discovered the beetle earlier this week and alerted the village's Forestry Department, state officials said. Foresters examined the suspect tree and alerted the United States Department of Agriculture. The bug was sent to the USDA's Romulus, Mich., lab for identification.
During an initial survey, inspectors found as many as 16 trees in a five-block area that appeared to be infested, said Chris Herbert, state agriculture department spokeswoman. Twelve trees are at Highcrest Middle School, located at Hunter and Illinois, a village official said; the rest are on private property in Wilmette.
A more extensive, miles-long survey begins Monday. When it's over, inspectors can calculate the damage, Herbert said.
"It's going to be a battle. [But] I don't think it's a panic situation," she said.
The beetle's larvae burrow into the ash tree's bark, causing it to starve and die, a state agriculture department release said. It threatens the tree population.
For Wilmette Village President Chris Canning, news of the beetle taking up residence in his community is "devastating."
"We are a community that prides itself on its trees," said Canning. He says 18,600 trees on Wilmette Village parkways encompassing over 150 species and sub-species, 2,818 are ash. "What many people say, when they come to Wilmette is that they enjoy the tree-lined streets -- the great canopy when they drive down the streets."
Working with the federal and state agriculture departments, the Village of Wilmette is prepared to contain the problem.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the village was hit by Dutch elm disease and it recovered from that, Canning said.
"If we have to start planting, we will -- just as previous generations have done."


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