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Morton Arboretum Hit By Emerald Ash Borer

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An Emerald Ash Borer Beetle. (James Zablotny/USDA Photo)

An Emerald Ash Borer Beetle. (James Zablotny/USDA Photo)

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LISLE (WBBM) — The Morton Arboretum is now in the same boat as so many with Ash trees: Foresters report the Emerald Ash Borer has arrived at the 1,700 acre nature preserve west of Chicago.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports

Collections Vice President Kris Bachtell believes many, if not most, of the Arboretum’s 9,300 Ash trees will be history in 10 years.

However, he says some of the specimen plants which came from Chinese stock will survive because Ash trees in Asia co-evolved with the ash borer and, thus, carry some natural immunity.

Bachtel says the 1/2-inch-long metallic green beetles kill ash trees by eating through the cambium, the inner layer of bark that transfers water and nutrients between roots and leaves.

The ash borers were found on 4 out of 10 “trap” trees which had their lower bark removed on purpose, to make them weak and easy targets. They then serve as an early warning of the beetles arrival.

Bachtell says the the infestation is so far minor.

He says infected trees will be removed, and run twice through a chipper to kill any beetle larvae inside.

He says arboretum foresters will do everything possible to maintain the health of the trees, while also working on research to find trees that are resistant, and to see if there’s any chemical that might help battle the beetle.

He says the last option is to decide what sort of trees to plant to replace those killed by the ash borer. Among the possibilities are Maples, Plane trees, and Hackberries.

The borers have killed tens of millions of ash trees in the United States and Canada, arboretum officials say. There are an estimated 130 million ash trees in Illinois.

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