ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Communities in southern Illinois are about to invaded by an insect that could destroy area trees.
The Emerald Ash Borer is a vicious beetle that targets ash trees. According to experts, the creatures could kill thousands of trees in southern Illinois within a few years.
The bug, which is smaller than the size of a penny, is blamed for killing millions of trees in northern Illinois over the past six years.
While it has stayed mainly in the northern parts of the state, the bug was recently found in Marion and Effingham counties.
Officials with the Illinois Department of Agriculture say the bug most likely was accidentally brought to Michigan from Asia in wood-packing material.
It quickly spread across the state and moved across the border through the transportation of firewood.
It turns out the beetle itself is not what’s destructive. The larvae is what actually kills the ash trees. It implements itself under the bark, which stops the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients.
Within a few years, the tree dies.
Officials say now that the bug has gotten to Effingham and Marion counties, the counties surrounding them are in danger as well.
You can learn more about the devastating beetle by visiting the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s website.