QUINCY -- Research officials conducting a field trial on the impacts of an emerald ash borer infestation in Quincy say there has been a significant increase in the number of beetles captured compared to last year.
According to Joliet Junior College horticulture professor Frederic Miller, the field trial at Westview Golf Course resulted in the capture of more than 50 beetles. The beetles have been taken to Canada for further testing.
"This is more confirmation of what we saw last year," Quincy Planning and Development Director Chuck Bevelheimer said.
Last year, less than 10 beetles were captured.
Bob Terstriep, a member of the Quincy Tree Commission, said Miller's report indicates that the infestation is growing more prevalent.
"All of the statistics show that once the beetles arrive, the numbers just grow exponentially," Terstriep said.
In 2018, officials with the Illinois Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of EAB in city ash trees. Since then, officials have spent thousands of dollars treating more than 380 ash trees in the city in hopes of controlling the infestation.
"We have always been mindful of EAB, and we started what I would say is fairly early in treating our trees," Bevelheimer said. "We have done a good job of treating the trees, with a lot of proactive measures, but the reality is that the beetles were already here in the region."
Bevelheimer said he and other officials have no reason to doubt that the treatments, which include pumping a highly-potent insecticide into the base of the tree, are not working.
"We have not seen any signs of EAB in the trees that have been treated," Bevelheimer said.
The city also cut more than 120 large ash trees in anticipation that they may have been infected.
The emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle that is blamed for the death of hundreds of thousands of the country's ash trees. Stopping the insect -- which has no significant local predators -- is unrealistic, according to scientists. However, trial studies like Miller's may provide an alternative to the costly insecticide.
In Miller's study, numerous sets of vertical traps have been placed in the ash trees at Westview Golf Course and at Wavering Park. One trap attracts the borers and funnels them into a chamber that is contaminated by a parasite fungus. The borers then fly away from the trap and pass the fungus on to other beetles, killing them within days. The second trap catches the beetles and allows researchers to examine if the beetle has the fungus.
All of the traps are placed high enough to not be accessible to people or pets.