The emerald ash borer — that insidious insect that burrows its way through the common species of tree, destroying it from the inside — has claimed hundreds of trees in Plainfield, and hundreds more are likely to be cut down over the next year.
Since the Illinois Department of Agriculture confirmed the ash borer’s presence in the northern section of Plainfield, the village has been dealing with an infestation of the invasive insect.
Director of Public Works Allen Person said staff will update a village survey on the condition of ash trees over the summer, but it’s likely that more trees will have to go.
“We are already anticipating that several hundred trees will need to be removed in 2013,” Persons said.
Last winter, 133 trees were cut down in the Champion Creek subdivision after village staff determined nearly all of the neighborhood’s parkway trees were infested.
TJ Countryman, head of the village’s forestry division, said more than 20 additional infested trees were removed over the last few weeks in the Fairfield Commons subdivision.
“I’m anticipating that we’re going to remove more throughout the village,” Countryman said.
Since 2005, the village has had a moratorium on planting ash trees, once a popular species with residential developers.
“This is something we’ve been keeping our eye on for a while,” Countryman said.
Persons said the village has $200,000 set aside to replace parkway trees removed this year due to ash borer infestation.
He anticipates that over the next five years, the village will have to remove and replace the remaining parkway ash trees in Plainfield — about 6,000 in all. While it’s too early to say how much that could cost, Persons said the village will likely seek grant funding to help foot the bill.
Emerald ash borers are about 3/8ths to 5/8ths long and have metallic green wing covers and coppery red or purple abdomens, according to the Michigan State University Extension Office. The larvae feed in tunnels just under the bark, creating a serpentine patter that "disrupts water and nutrient transport, causing branches, and eventually the entire tree, to die," the extension office says.
When the adult beetles are ready to exit the tree, they leave a distinctive D-shaped hole, the office says.
Persons urged residents who have questions about their trees to contact the village.
“We will be happy to send one of our three certified arborists out for an inspection,” he said.