The confirmed cases of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) outbreak had been confined to the eastern side of the state — but that all changed today as the state Agriculture Department confirmed an infestation in Creston in southwest Iowa’s Union County.
State Entomologist Robin Pruisner says a local arborist contacted state officials about a suspect ash tree in Creston and the Iowa EAB Team found the galleries cut in the bark by the bug and a partial adult beetle was positively identified. Pruisner says the beetle moves very slowly, so it likely got some help heading west in firewood. “I guess we often times assume firewood, but it’s very hard to find a smoking gun, because infestations are often four or five or more years old before we can find them,” Pruisner says.
Tivon Feeley of the DNR says the ash trees are very hardy and often grow bark to cover over damage done by beetles. “For example, when we got into the Creston tree and we started bark peeling, we could see right away when we took off the first layer of bark where there had been many galleries for years and years that were not apparent from the ground,” Feely says.
Feely says the Creston tree is a good indication that there are likely more infestations that haven’t been discovered. He says it’s not an easy insect to find, but says “it is definitely building in the state.” State Forestor, Paul Tauke, agrees there’ll be more and more cases of EAB found. “I think its fair to say that as public awareness increases — especially among the professionals in the industry — if it’s out there we are more likely to find it now than I think we would have been two or three years ago, because now people are tuned in and they know what to look for,” Tauke says.
The state instituted a quarantine in November covering 25 counties in eastern Iowa in an effort to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer. Pruisner says the discovery in Union County has them now looking at a new quarantine. “Right now I think anything is possible. We are going to have to have some real serious discussions here over the next few weeks about what we think we can accomplish by enlarging it. Of course, going statewide is always a possibility,” Pruisner says. She says the Iowa EAB Team cautions everyone to not transport firewood across county or state lines, since the movement of firewood throughout Iowa or to other states poses the greatest threat to quickly spread EAB even further.
EAB infestations had previously been discovered in Allamakee County in May 2010, Des Moines County in July 2013, Jefferson County in August 2013 and Cedar County in October 2013.