Many trees across Iowa are looking sickly due to the drought but con artists are trying to convince people it’s an infestation that demands immediate action.
Consumer advocate Sandy Chalmers says scammers may claim a destructive insect is to blame for the trees’ condition, but she warns, don’t let them take advantage of you.
Chalmers says, “Unscrupulous, fly-by-night contractors are going door-to-door using the appearance of the trees to con people into spending money to have the trees treated for emerald ash borer or removed.”
This summer’s drought has left trees in poor condition, but Chalmers says they likely just need a good drink, not chemical treatment and not to be cut down.
She says emerald ash borers are destroying trees in several other states, but not Iowa. “There is an awareness out there that emerald ash borer is a problem,” she says. “These guys are going door-to-door taking advantage of people’s concern for their trees.” Infestations of the insect have wiped out more than 50-million ash trees in the U.S. over the past decade.
Larvae of the beetle were discovered on an island in the Mississippi River off the shore of northeast Iowa’s Allamakee County in 2010, but there have been no other reports within the state’s borders. Outbreaks are reported in neighboring states, including: Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.
Removing a tree can cost thousands of dollars, so Chalmers says property owners should be skeptical about anyone offering services door-to-door with a high pressure sales pitch.
“Take the time, do your homework, find out what kind of chemical treatments are appropriate for application at this time of year to treat for an emerald ash borer infestation,” she says. Chalmers also suggests checking with local tree care specialists.