Local students hunting emerald ash borer

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The invasive emerald ash borer can kill ash trees, and it has been spotted in several counties in our area.

EAB has been found in Rock Island, Whiteside and Jo Davies County in Illinois and downriver in Des Moines County in Iowa.

Some local college students are stepping up to try to help slow its spread and save trees here in the Quad Cities.

While most students are enjoying summer vacation, Augustana College senior Morgan Conely doesn't take a break from research.

"We're trying to determine where the emerald ash borer is in Rock Island and Moline," said Conely.

Augustana and  the City of Rock Island have teamed up to tackle the emerald ash borer.

"(We're) getting the students learning and, at the same time, helping cities that have financial constraints and resource constraints," said Michael Reisner, assistant professor of environmental studies at Augustana.

They've set more than 60 traps in Rock Island and Moline. A GPS system keeps track of all the trees.

"It's giving us the exact coordinates of where this tree is," said Conely.

The research will show where the beetles are and how many are out there.

"Once the beetles infest the tree, it's usually two or three years before they actually start showing signs," Conely said.  "So, the city is interested to see what we find with the beetles, and where there are possible infestations that we're just not seeing yet."

That gives the city an idea of how many trees will be impacted by an EAB infestation.

"We are trying to save these trees. We're trying to understand how significant of a risk, and how quickly this risk is to spreading through Rock Island and Moline," said Reisner.

Students will collect data all summer long.  In the fall, they will analyze the data and share that information to the city.

Then it is up to the city to decide whether to treat the trees or cut them down.

Get more of our coverage of the EAB infestation in Iowa and Illinois - click here.