Well, there’s good news… and there’s bad news. The good news is that the struggle to eliminate emerald ash borer from the state of Illinois appears to be nearing its end. The bad news? It’s because there are precious few ash trees left to save.

The state’s department of agriculture lifted its quarantine in November, stating:

“The survey results this year support deregulation with nearly 60 percent of our counties confirmed positive for EAB,” said Plant and Pesticide Specialist Supervisor Scott Schirmer. “Over the past decade, the regulations and quarantines have served their purpose to slow the rate of spread and afford people time to manage for this pest. However, there comes a time when the pest is too widespread to continue to regulate, and this is our time.”

With fewer ash trees, there’s a reduced inventory, if you will, of appropriate places in which the little critters can reproduce – and even if they can find room, there’s less for their offspring to feed upon.

As Dr. Phil Nixon, a University of Illinois entomologist, put it, “There comes a point somewhere where you have few ash that are left, where the boys and girls can’t find each other and you start not having a problem.”

Despite the cry of “uncle!” Illinois officials continue to encourage vigilance. The ban no longer applies to transport of ash materials in-state, but the Federal quarantine remains in effect.