Emerald ash borer problem soars in Vernon Hills, nearby villages
Vernon Hills, IL 4/26/12 A crew of Vernon Hills public works employees replace a few of the 178 trees that were removed because of the emerald ash borer. As Josh Hansen hold a red oak in the right position, Scott Straub (center) and Sergio Lozano throw dirt on it. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2012 8:07AM
Ken Loar says woodpeckers are good indicators if an ash tree is infested with the emerald ash borer.
“The woodpeckers are eating the larvae, so if there is heavy woodpecker damage it usually means the tree is infested with emerald ash borer,” said Loar, village arborist for Vernon Hills.
The emerald ash borer is a growing problem for local communities -- and it is only expected to get worse.
“Going off what we’re been hearing from other towns, it’s just increasing exponentially the number of trees that are infested,” Loar said.
The ash-tree-killing green beetle has already had a big impact in Vernon Hills. In April, public works crews removed 161 ash trees from parkway areas, according to Vernon Hills Public Works Director/Village Engineer David Brown. Village crews removed 72 parkway ash trees last year.
The number of ash trees that have been removed from parkway areas over the past two years represents about 6.2 percent of the village’s total parkway ash trees, Brown said. That number does not include ash trees that may have been removed from private property by homeowners.
The problem is not isolated to a single town.
“We’re planning on removing about 250 trees this year,” said Libertyville Public Works Director John Heinz. “The number of trees has skyrocketed in as far as the number of ash trees that are showing significant decline.”
Heinz said the cost for the removal of infested ash trees, chemical treatments to preserve high-quality ash trees and reforestation and replanting of new trees is expected to be about $100,000 this year.
Fortunately, he said, Libertyville received a $10,000 grant from the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus to replace trees damaged by the insect.
In Mundelein, the impact of emerald ash borer so far has not been felt to the extent of surrounding communities, but village officials believe it’s only a matter of time.
Adam Boeche, director of public works and engineering for Mundelein, said village crews have identified six parkway trees infested with the insect that are slated for removal.
‘More and more’
“We’re pretty confident that it’s pretty widespread,” he said. “We’re finding more and more each year.”
Boeche said the village applied to the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus for a technical assistance grant to better monitor the spread of emerald ash borer and another grant for reforestation, but the village did not receive either grant.
In Vernon Hills, Brown said the village board recently authorized the purchase of a stump grinder for $39,000 to remove tree stumps of ash trees. It also incurred some outside contracting costs for removal of the larger trees and limbs. The village received $20,000 in grant money to help pay for reforestation of parkway areas where ash trees were removed.
Brown said public works crews also attempt to notify homeowners if they notice ash trees that appear in decline on private property but removal of those trees is the responsibility of the homeowners. In addition to woodpecker damage, other potential signs of emerald ash borer infestation include small D-shaped holes near the trunk of the tree and green sprouting branches near the bottom of the tree.