The Iowa Department of Agriculture has instituted a multi-county quarantine to try and slow the spread of the emerald ash borer. Department entomologist, Robin Pruisner says, “We’ve drawn out an area of 25 counties in eastern Iowa that stretches from the Minnesota border down to the Missouri border that encompasses those know infest counties. And we are just sure that there are other infested counties that we just haven’t found quite yet.”
The quarantine prevents moving wood that might be infected, like entire ash trees; firewood of any hardwood species or any cut or fallen material of the ash. “Any of those things that originate within that area we want to stay within the boundaries of that quarantine unless a person or an industry has a compliance agreement with us where they certain actions –like heat treating or something along those lines — to eliminate that pest risk,” Pruisner says.
The counties included in the quarantine are: Winneshiek, Allamakee, Fayette, Clayton, Buchanan, Delaware, Dubuque, Linn, Jones, Jackson, Clinton, Johnson, Cedar, Scott, Keokuk, Washington, Muscatine, Louisa, Wapello, Jefferson, Henry, Des Moines, Davis, Van Buren, and Lee. Pruisner says quarantines in other states have proven effective in slowing the spread of the pest. Pruisner says, “The insect really only flies a few miles a year on its own wing power, but it goes pretty fast on the interstate on the back of a truck.”
You might think it’s okay to move wood in the dead of the winter while the ash borer is not active, but Prusiner says it can still cause problems when things thaw out in the spring. “If that piece of wood has not dried out all the way — it’s very possible for a beetle to still emerge and then infect that area where the wood has been moved to,” she explains.
Pruisner is hoping people will learn about the quarantine and comply. “Here in the State of Iowa it is a simple misdemeanor, but we do have the ability to confiscate and destroy anything that we feel needs to be handled in that way,” Pruisner says. “And then we can assess the cost of those activities back on the person who is guilty of doing that.”
A federal ban on taking the infected wood across state lines will also go into place with Iowa’s quarantine. “If someone is to break the federal quarantine and cross state lines with it, the Federal Plant Protection Act actually has the finning ability of up to 250-thousand dollars per act,” according to Pruisner.
A full copy of the quarantine can be found on the Ag Department’s website at: www.IowaAgriculture.gov. The emerald ash borer has been positively identified in four locations in eastern Iowa. Allamakee County was declared infested in May 2010, Des Moines County in July 2013, Jefferson County in August of this year and Cedar County in October of this year.
The pest kills all ash species and is considered to be one of the most destructive tree pests ever seen in North America.