Emerald Ash Borer

A destructive pest, known for killing ash trees, has been found in new locations of northeast Iowa’s Allamakee County. Tivon Feeley with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says it’s the first time larvae consistent with the emerald ash borer have been spotted in sentinel or “trap” trees in the state.

Allamakee County has been under quarantine since 2010 when the beetle was discovered along the Mississippi River. Feeley says emerald ash borer finds in Kansas City, Missouri and in the State of Kansas are also of concern.

Now the southwest part of Iowa, which appeared last year to be at lower risk, is probably at equal risk,” Feeley says. “And it’s just slowly getting closer and closer to the Quad Cities. I think we’re going to see multiple points where it could enter into the state within the next couple years.”

The emerald ash borer was first discovered in the U.S. in 2002 in Michigan. The slow moving, metallic green beetle infests ash trees and kills them. Feeley says residents within 15 miles of the latest finds in Allamakee County are taking steps to limit damages.

“A lot of the communities have started to remove the ash trees that were at least declining prior to emerald ash borer,” Feeley says. “They’re going to start reducing the amount of ash trees that are publicly owned and get rid of the liability.”

There are an estimated 52-million woodland ash trees in Iowa and another three-million ash trees in urban areas. Feeley is telling owners of the woodland trees, when or if the trees die, they can be used as firewood within that particular county.

“In urban areas, that’s a different story,” Feeley said. “When these ash trees die, they tend to fall apart pretty quickly and become more expensive. In those areas, the recommendation is to either take them down or if you have an outstanding ash tree you want to protect, there are treatment options.”

Ash tree owners seeking a treatment option are advised to contact an arborist.