A dangerous insect that could dramatically alter the state’s landscape is now very close to the Iowa boarder. A new infestation of Emerald Ash Borers (EAB) was found near Victory, Wisconsin – less than five miles from Allamakee County in northeast Iowa.
State Entomologist Robin Pruisner says if the pest finds its way across the river, the state’s 88-million ash trees could be in jeopardy. She notes that up to a half or more of all of the trees in some Iowa towns are ash trees. "So, if you start thinking about a city where suddenly that proportion of their trees are gone over the course of a couple of years because of an infestation, that city really starts to look differently," Pruisner said.
The Emerald Ash Borer burrows under the bark and eats the tree alive. Pruisner says the beetle is native to the Orient and was first introduced in the U.S. in the 1990’s in Detroit. "In states that have been suffering from infestations, we’re basically seeing the demise of ash trees," Pruisner said. "I had the opportunity to go to Michigan a couple of years ago where we actually saw ash trees that had died from Emerald Ash Borer damage re-sprouting and the sprouts were only as big around as my pinky finger and those sprouts were again infested by Emerald Ash Borer and dying."
Pruisner says there’s no cure for EAB right now, so containment of the pest is the state’s best hope. Agriculture officials are urging Iowans to avoid transporting firewood across state lines or plant any new ash trees.