CHAMPAIGN — They're here.
The much anticipated — but dreaded — emerald ash borer has officially invaded the city of Champaign. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed that an emerald ash borer was found along Market Street just south of Interstate 74 last week.
It is the first emerald ash borer discovered inside the Champaign city limits, but that will not change the city's approach to the invasive tree-killer, according to a press release. City officials have been awaiting its arrival for years.
Now the city, the USDA, the Illinois Department of Agriculture and Human Kinetics will host an educational session about the insect, according to a press release. The general public is invited to attend between 2 and 4 p.m. Thursday at 1607 N. Market St., C.
Green industry professionals are invited to attend at the same location on Thursday between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. for hands-on training.
Champaign County had already been designated a "quarantine zone" after a bug was found in Rantoul in September 2010. That designation prohibits the movement of any ash trees or non-coniferous firewood outside of the county lines.
The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic-looking insect native to Asia. It was first discovered in Detroit in 2002 and has been spreading through the Midwest ever since. It is believed to have killed tens of millions of ash trees.
Its larvae feed on the inner bark of the trees, which cuts off the flow of water and nutrients to the tree. Small trees may die within one to two years, according to a city press release, and large trees can be killed in three to four years.
The city of Champaign has more than 2,000 ash trees on public property, according to the release. That's less than 10 percent of the city's total tree population.
Before the June 15 discovery, city officials had prohibited the planting of ash trees on public property and crews had been removing ash trees that were in poor condition.
Questions about trees on private property can be forwarded to the University of Illinois Extension at 217-333-7672. Those with questions about trees on public property can contact the city's public works department at 217-403-4700.