Carrie Brooks doesn't want to think about what her Mount Prospect neighborhood would be like without its parkway trees.
"If we lost them, the block would look devastated," she said. "The trees really help make this area special."
The problem is, many of the trees along Grace Drive are ash trees, the target of the tree-killing emerald ash borer insect.
Hoping to save them, Brooks contacted her neighbors to see if they'd be willing to pay to have their trees treated with insecticide. The result: 13 ash trees were treated.
"I'm so happy with the way everyone pulled together," she said. "It feels like the little block that could."
The treatment cost roughly $100 per tree, Brooks said, and is designed to provide two years of protection. She now hopes other Mount Prospect residents will her neighborhoods' lead.
"It's an investment, yes, but it's worthwhile when you think of how trees improve our quality of life here," Brooks said.
The emerald ash borer was first discovered in Illinois in 2006. It was found in Mount Prospect in 2010.
The adult insect lays eggs in the bark of an ash tree. Larvae then burrow inside and feed on the tree's inner wood, disrupting its ability to transport nutrients. When the larvae mature into adults, they chew their way back out of the tree.
"One of the things that's so difficult is that the insect can be in a tree for a long time before any symptoms appear," said Sandy Clark, Mount Prospect's forestry & grounds superintendent.
The village is addressing the emerald ash borer problem in a number of ways, Clark said. One element of the village's approach is an ash reduction program, which removes parkway ash trees that are in poor condition or stand in poor growing sites.
"A poor site can be where the ground is sandy, or the tree is growing near power lines, something like that," Clark said. "We offer to cut down those trees, though residents can opt out if they choose."
The village also is treating healthy ashes with insecticide. Clark said roughly 800 ash trees have been treated, most of them white or blue ashes, which tend to be stronger and more resistant to the emerald ash borer.
The village doesn't have the resources to treat every single one of its roughly 4,400 parkway ash trees, however, so residents who can afford it are encouraged to do what Brooks and her neighbors did, Clark said.
"If residents decide to treat their parkway trees, we'll issue a permit for that," she said. "We'll take a look at the trees first to make sure they're not just throwing money away on a tree that's already gone."
The village has placed a wealth of material about the emerald ash borer on its website, mountprospect.org, including a review of insecticide options conducted by research institutions. The "quick links" tab on the upper right of the village's home page includes a link to all the information.