IL Ash Trees Infested by Pest

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It's only a half inch long, but it could destroy an entire species. The emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees in four states. Now the Agriculture Department is fighting to stop it from spreading throughout Illinois after discovering the pest in Kane County.

"For the last two years we have been preparing for this day with our partners in the Emerald Ash Borer Readiness Team, hoping it would never come," said Chuck Hartke, Illinois Agriculture Director.

The bright green beetle burrows into trees' bark and destroys their ability to absorb water. Experts say it's only a matter of time before the beetle infests ash trees in the stateline.

"It will hit here. It won't wipe out big blocks of trees like in the 60's with elm trees," said John Richards, a certified arborist.

Ash trees make up 15 percent of tree population in Rockford. There's not much we can do to protect them.

"You can't prevent it. The best you can do is just keep the tree healthy," said Richards.

The forest city could look a lot different if the emerald green ash borer infests our trees. The U.S. Department of Agriculture could cut down all of our ash trees if the pest is discovered here.

"We won't have a choice once the Department of Agriculture gets involved. Private property, city property, it doesn't matter. They will have it all taken out," said Richards.

So far this Asian bug hasn't found a home in the stateline.