The emerald ash borer has been confirmed in a fourth location in the state after a resident of Mechanicsville in Cedar County called to report a tree that didn’t look right. Department of Agriculture state entomologist, Robin Pruisner, says it’s evident the emerald ash borer population has now grown enough that it has become easier to find.
“They’re wily insects, they’re very hard to find. It’s very common for them to be somewhere for five years before we find them,” Pruisner explains. “Couple that with the last couple of years we have had some really odd weather patterns. Our trees are in stress because we have gone from drought to flood to drought, there never seems to be any middle ground. And so when the trees are under stress, emerald ash borer is more added stress and I think the trees are showing stress more readily.”
The bug kills all species of ash trees and was first found in May of 2010 in Allamakee County in northeast Iowa. Confirmed cases where then found in 2010 in southeast Iowa’s Des Moines County in July and Jefferson County in August.
Pruisner says the Cedar County infestation has them rethinking the plan to try and control the bug. “We had a quarantine area that was under consideration that was going to quarantine some far southeastern Iowa counties where the Des Moines and Jefferson County infestations had been found,” Pruisner says. “This Cedar County infestation now is a wild card. It’s a lot farther north — yet it’s not all the way up to Allamakee.” She says they will now have to consider a quarantine that is much larger than that had been looking at one week ago.
The quarantine would allow people in the included counties to use firewood and other wood products in the county, but they would not be able to take those products outside the county. Pruisner says that’s the one way to control the movement of the insect as it moves slowly on its own, but is helped along when people move infected wood.
Even with the attempts to slow its movement, the emerald ash borer continues spreading across the U.S. “It’s been interesting here in the last week we’ve had another couple of key infestations announced. One in Boulder, Colorado, that is definitely the farthest west. Prior to that the farthest west has been Kansas City, Missouri,” Pruisner says. She says Rock Island, Illinois — which is just across the border from Iowa — also announced that it has an infestation of 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. To learn more about the emerald ash borer and other pests threatening Iowa’s tree population, visit: www.IowaTreePests.com.