Tree Pests to Look for in Chicago

June 13, 2018

Chicago is home to plenty of beautiful plants, flowers, and trees. Unfortunately, many native insects and diseases affect this greenery. In this latest blog post, we thought it would be good to focus on such pests.

We will look at the Gypsy Moth, Asian Longhorned Beetle, as well as the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer.

Gypsy Moth

As you can see on the City of Chicago website, the Gypsy Moth has been a problem since the early 1990s. The Bureau of Forestry currently hangs over 64 traps throughout the city in a grid system as directed by the Department of Agriculture (IDA). These traps are set up to not only remove moths from the breeding population but also help the city identify additional problem areas.

Longtime Chicago residents might remember the Gypsy Moth control problem that was implemented in 2002. Were you not here at the time? Not a problem, we’re happy to explain it.

Basically, Forestry distributed soil and Gypsy Moth cadavers containing the fungus known as Entomophaga maimaiga. What makes this fungus so useful in control efforts is that it kills Gypsy Moth caterpillars without compromising the environment. The ultimate goal is that this proactive treatment will continue to reduce the overall impact of this pest on Chicago’s tree population.

Fortunately, the Gypsy Moth has yet to cause much damage within the city. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take this pest seriously, though. If you’re concerned about your tree and want to know more about the Gypsy Moth, we encourage you to reach out to a local tree service.

Asian Longhorned Beetle

The Bureau of Forestry and the United States Department of Agriculture have spent more than two decades trying to figure out the Asian Longhorned Beetle. By no means should you mistake ALB for an average beetle.

It’s common for ALB to attack and kill hardwood trees such as maple, elm, ash, birch, willow, and many more. The main concern tree care experts have is that, if this beetle becomes established over a large area, the forest ecosystem could be disrupted.

An adult ALB is large (0.75 – 1.50 inches long) with noticeably long black and white banded antennae. Be aware that their bodies are glossy black with irregular white spots. One more notable bit of information: adults can typically be seen from late spring to fall depending on the climate.

Again, please reach out to either Forestry or a professional tree service with questions regarding ALB.

Emerald Ash Borer   

This might be the most recognized pest of the three. The Emerald Ash Borer, an exotic beetle from Asia, was first discovered feeding on ash trees in southeastern Michigan in 2002. Ever since, EAB has been deemed responsible for killing over 30 million trees in the northeastern U.S. and Canada alone.

How exactly can a beetle be capable of such destruction? Well, the larvae feed under the bark and outer sapwood of the ash tree. This frenzy produces galleries that, eventually, kill branches and even entire trees.

Per the City of Chicago, ash trees make up approximately 17 percent of our street tree population. Tack on an estimated 300,000 ash trees from private property and it’s no secret that ash trees are one of the popular species in Chicago.

Perhaps you’re wondering, “What’s the city doing to combat EAB?” Rest assured crews are working to inject trees to slow the progression of the insect and manage tree health. The plan is for Forestry crews to treat 35,000 ash trees this year and another 35,000 next year.

Feel free to consult an experienced tree care team for assistance with EAB on a privately owned property.


When pests are impacting your trees, you need to take action. Pro Tree Service has been serving residents in Chicago and surrounding suburbs since 1989. Licensed, bonded, and insured, you can count on us to tackle any size job.

Pro Tree Service is proud to offer the following services:

Don’t let pesky pests get the best of your tree. Contact the pros at Pro Tree today to request a free estimate.

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