World of Science Lecture: emerald ash borer
Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Updated: Thursday, April 7, 2011 12:04
On the first Friday of every month, William M Staerkel Planetarium hosts their World of Science lecture series. The series is open to the public and only costs $1 to attend. The planetarium invites local scientists to come in and speak about a range of different scientific topics. "It's a public service," said Dave Leake, the Planetarium Director. "It's part of our mission to act as a conduit. You have the scientific community on one end and the general public on the other end. We try to not just have astronomy, but to hit all of the other sciences as well. We bring in some of the cutting edge scientists into a place where they can talk about what they're doing."
Last Friday's World Of Science lecture was titled "I Spy an Invasive: Up Close with the Emerald Ash Borer." It featured Kelly Estes, the state survey coordinatorof the Illinois Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Program. The emerald ash borer is an invasive pest that poses a threat to Illinois' environment. So far, the insect has killed millions of ash trees in North America. Currently, Illinois is quarantined from transporting ash products outside of state borders. Also, some counties in Illinois are quarantined from transporting ash products to others within the state.
According to Estes, it was brought overseas from Asia by solid wood packing material, which is present in at least half of the imported cargo containers. In the lecture, she explained, "solid wood packing material is associated with 97 percent of our quarantined invasive pests that are detected at ports of entry." However, only an estimated five percent of these cargo containers are inspected. Invasive pests can also be transferred to the United States through the importing of flowers, nursery stock, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Nationally, firewood is the main culprit for the transporting of the emerald ash borer. First detected in Michigan in 2002, the pest expanded to Illinois, with the first state sighting at Kane County in June 2006. Last year, the insect was found at the rest stop off of I-57 in Loda. More recently, the emerald ash borer was found just last fall in a campground in Rantoul. "The emerald ash borer was found just down the road," said Estes. "Awareness here needs to be really high. It could be in any town here in Illinois and we could just not know it yet."
To help solve this issue, Estes encourages people to look for signs of the emerald ash borer in ash trees. The insect itself is a metallic green color and only around a half of an inch long. A few common signs on ash trees highlighted in the lecture were tiny "D" shaped exit holes, increased woodpecker activity and damage, and a declining canopy of the tree. If you feel as though you may have an emerald ash borer or infected tree, Estes encourages readers to contact her by emailing email@example.com or calling 217-333-1005. She also recommended the website www.emeraldashborer.info for those interested in learning more about the invasive pest.
This discussion marked the end of the 2010-2011 World Of Science lecture series. A brand new series is currently being planned for next fall. "When booking the series, I think about hot-shot topics," said Leake. "For example, when I go to book the series for next year I might be thinking about something to do with radioactivity." For more information on the William M. Staerkel Planetarium and its different events, see their official website at www.parkland.edu/planetarium.