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Emerald Ash Borer on the Run as City Inoculates Trees

By Ted Cox | July 10, 2013 10:37am
 An emerald ash borer perched on a penny.
An emerald ash borer perched on a penny.
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Wikimedia Commons/Forestry Images

CHICAGO — The city's abundant ash trees are rolling up their sleeves for inoculations against the emerald ash borer.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office announced Wednesday the city is halfway to its goal of inoculating 35,000 trees this year against the pest.

"The emerald ash borer threatens nearly 20 percent of Chicago’s parkway trees, which enhance the beauty of our city and offer countless environmental benefits to our communities," Emanuel said in a statement. "Protecting these valuable assets not only supports a healthy environment, but can prevent the costly removal and replacement of thousands of trees."

According to the city, inoculating a tree costs $46, compared with $1,000 to remove and replace a diseased tree.

Anne Sheahan, spokeswoman for the Department of Streets & Sanitation, said the Bureau of Forestry has for the most part been working in from the borders of the city.

"Initial points of focus were the perimeter of the city and also the Near South Side where the insect was first found," Sheahan said.

By the end of the summer, however, she said they'll have treated trees in all 50 wards.

Emanuel budgeted $2 million this year to combat the insect, an invasive species believed to have been imported to America from Asia 10 years ago in wooden packing material. That was a steep increase from the $110,000 spent on the project last year.

The city hired 26 workers specifically to inoculate trees, planning to get 35,000 this year compared with 18,000 overall since 2009. The city estimates 85,000 trees are at risk.

The trees are treated with emamectin benzoate, which has been proven to kill 99 percent of ash borers in a tree and protects it for three years.