A recent report by state officials tracking the Emerald Ash Borer showed little if any movement by the pest since it was discovered on an island along the Mississippi River in Allamakee County in 2010. The bug infests ash trees and kills them, and there is little that experts say can be done to stop them once they get going.
Iowa State University extension entomologist, Mark Shour says the one good thing about the bug is that it doesn’t travel fast.
“The Emerald Ash Borer tends to stay near where it emerges, and even though there are some studies that say it will go a mile or two away from heavily infested zones, generally with light infestations, the beetles just emerge and if they can find trees to lay their eggs and do their mating, they’ll just stay that immediate area,” Shour says.
Officials put out some 1,200 traps to track he beetle and found two traps in Allamakee County — one in New Albin and another in Lansing — that each caught one beetle. But there were no signs of the beetle outside of Allamakee County. While the beetles don’t move very fast, Shour says everyone should be aware they can hitchhike and really cover some ground, so you shouldn’t help them out.
He says it’s a reminder that it’s best not to take firewood with you, instead buy firewood at a local site that has been cleared. Shour says you should also not buy ash trees other states, such as Illinois and Wisconsin, that have infestations of the Emerald Ash Borer. The U.S.D.A. Forest Service estimates Iowa has 52-million rural ash trees and approximately 3.1-million more ash trees in urban areas.
Many people are probably more worried about the drought impacting their trees than they are the invasive beetle. But Shour says trees can deal with dry conditions.
“Trees generally are less affected by the drought compared to the corn and soybeans, annual crops. And if they are planted in a good site and have good moisture they can draw from, they generally can make it through these dry periods,” Shour says.
He says if the drought extends for several years, then it causes more problems for trees. Shour says some trees may drop leaves a little earlier because of the drought, but they should be alright come spring.