Emerald Ash Borer Makes Its Way to Chicago
As the world we live in grows smaller, and as air travel becomes more abundant, we must take more care to curtail the spread of invasive species, especially those that affect our native trees. Having trees next to your home can provide energy saving shade, positively affect your mental health, attract local wildlife like songbirds, and even raise the property value of your home. However, proper attention must be given to the types and numbers of trees that are spread out in a neighborhood in order to prevent the devastating effects of invasive effects. A suburb of Chicago afflicted with the Emerald Ash Borer insect is only just starting to recover.
According to this article in the Chicago Tribune, the Emerald Ash Borer, an insect native to Southeast Asia, was first confirmed to have entered the suburb of Southland in 2008. Since then, thousands of ash trees have either died or been removed, but even a decade later the new trees are nowhere near as impressive and will take years more to come close to their former glory. Some communities in Southland responded to the pest better than others, and before the pest was confirmed the village of Homewood already had a plan in place to remove nearly every Ash tree. The trees were replaced from selections of 89 other species of native trees so that if such a pest or disease were to ever hit again, not every tree would be taken out. Mokena had a similar tree replacement program that started in 2013 and went through 2016, after which the focus shifted to education and the public was encouraged to take action on their own. The villages in Southland that did not take any action and left the trees to die do look much worse, but for the most part, there was not enough money in their budgets to implement a replacement program.
What this article tells us is that regardless of where you live, it is important to vary the species of trees that you choose to grow in your yard. Of course, native trees are also generally a better fit and matching the landscape of your neighborhood so that the entire community can benefit is also a consideration. Whether you suspect one of your trees is being attacked by an insect, or if you are looking for ways to diversify your plant life, landscaping companies like Ware Landscaping in the Chicago area can help identify what trees should go where and what action should be taken against any pests.
Communities as a whole should make sure education materials are available to the general public so that widespread devastation of this sort never happens again. Blight and hungry pests will continue to be an issue, but having a diverse landscape will ensure that community members retain the value of their homes and that they will not lose any shade trees. Funneling money into programs meant to protect our trees should be on the agenda for every community development organization.