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Researchers want to determine if a metallic green beetle is munching ash trees in Shawnee National Forest

Researchers have launched a project to determine if the invasive – and destructive – emerald ash borer has spread into Shawnee National Forest. Visitors to popular summertime destinations – such as Garden of the Gods and Pounds Hollow – might see bright green, long funnel traps during their visit.


“If you visit us and see something bright green that looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book, don’t worry,” said Justin Dodson, a forest expert with Shawnee National Forest. “That’s what scientists use to catch the emerald ash borer.”

“These traps may look weird, but to emerald ash borers they smell great,” said University of Illinois – Extension’s Chris Evans, who recently placed 15 traps from Garden of the Gods to Cave in Rock. “The traps are baited with a scent that this beetle finds irresistible.”


Media can see the traps and learn about the emerald ash borer and this research from Evans on Friday, May 18 at 10 a.m. University of Illinois’ Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, which is located at 354 State Highway 145 N, Simpson, Illinois 62985-9615.


Emerald ash borer is a serious invasive species that threatens Illinois’ ash trees. It has spread rapidly through the state since its discovery in 2006. It now is found in 62 counties, including places just north of the national forest. In places where the beetle is found, less than 1 percent of ash trees survive. Early detection of invasive species in an important for conservationists to limit negative effects.


The project is a collaboration between Illinois Department of Agriculture, Shawnee National Forest, University of Illinois – Extension, Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Illinois Department of Agriculture is the lead agency in Illinois on tracking the spread of the emerald ash borer.


About the Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald ash borer is a serious invasive species in Illinois that hails from Asia. This metallic-colored wood boring beetle feeds almost exclusively on ash trees.


Adult ash borers aren’t the problem – its babies are. Female ash borers lay their eggs on the bark of ash trees. The larvae that hatch then burrow under the bark to feed. Larval feeding is restricted mostly to the thin layers of tissue that lie just under the bark of trees. The larvae snake through the tree, just under the bark, creating winding paths, called galleries. As more and more beetles infest a tree, the feeding galleries disrupt the trees ability to transport nutrients and water, effectively starving the tree.


How It Affects Trees

Small trees infested with the beetle typically take about two years to die, whereas larger ones can last up to seven years. Outwards signs of an infestation include dieback from the top of the tree and lots of small leafy shoots sprouting from the trunk. When populations of emerald ash borer are at or near peak, most ash trees within that region will die within five years.


All of Illinois’ native ash trees are susceptible. This poses a threat to the health and integrity of our natural forests, but also threatens the urban and residential forests, as ash trees are a popular landscaping tree. They were planted extensively throughout Illinois during the last 40 years, comprising about 20 percent of the urban canopy.


What You Can Do

There are steps landowners will need to take if the emerald ash borer is located in Shawnee National Forest. Landowners who want to get a jumpstart on planning can begin by identifying and locating ash trees on their property.

About Illinois Department of Agriculture

Illinois Department of Agriculture is an advocate for Illinois’ agricultural industry and provides the necessary regulatory functions to benefit consumers, agricultural industry and Illinois’ natural resources. The agency strives to promote agri-business in Illinois and throughout the world.​

About Forest Service

Administered by the USDA Forest Service, about 1 million people visit Shawnee National Forest each year to connect with nature on its 289,000 acres. Learn more at

About University of Illinois – Extension

University of Illinois Extension is the flagship outreach effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offering educational programs to residents of all of Illinois’ 102 counties — and far beyond. Extension provides practical education to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future. More than 1.5 million Illinois residents take part in Extension programs each year, including nearly 200,000 who participate in 4-H youth programs.

About Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Illinois Department of Natural Resources manages, conserves and protects Illinois’ natural, recreational and cultural resources, furthers the public’s understanding and appreciation of those resources, and promotes the education, science and public safety of Illinois’ natural resources for present and future generations.