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Naperville finds emerald ash borer in South-side trees
By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 6/11/2008 5:29 PM | Updated: 6/11/2008 8:37 PM

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Naperville loves to be No. 1, but this is one feat officials won't add to any list of accomplishments.

The city has become the first community in Will County to report an emerald ash borer infestation after 11 trees in a townhouse complex on the city's southwest side were found to have the critters.

The discovery was made last week in parkway trees at the Ashwood Park Townhome development near 248th Avenue and 103rd Street. The city's forestry team has been scouring a half-mile radius since that time looking at all ash trees for signs of other infestations.

So far, it appears to be isolated to that area, Public Works Director Dave Van Vooren said Wednesday.

"We're inspecting every ash tree in the parkways and any ash trees on private property that we can get to," he said.

The city's forester, Jack Mitz, discovered the infested trees on routine patrol.

"He noticed the trees hadn't leafed out and went to check it out," Van Vooren said. "There they were."

The beetles -- which first arrived in 2002 in Michigan and were discovered in the Chicago area in 2005 -- are born inside the trees and eat away at the nutrient-delivery system before getting old enough and big enough to breed and move onto another nearby tree to lay more eggs.

Naperville's infected trees were young ones that likely were planted in the past two or three years.

It's possible the trees were infected when they were planted, Van Vooren said, but officials are checking other trees to make sure the infestation didn't start someplace else.

"The nice thing about this area is it's a fairly new subdivision, so there isn't much around to infect," Van Vooren said. "Some of the infected trees were able to be pulled out complete with the root balls."

Naperville is in an emerald ash borer quarantine zone, but these trees probably were added just prior to the ban. Since the quarantine was put in place, city officials began monitoring the health of ash trees.

The infected trees found last week have been destroyed to state agriculture department requirements. The city is taking the extra step of disposing of the trees' remains through a contracted waste hauler to ensure there will be no further breakout, Van Vooren said.