State officials are issuing a statewide quarantine targeting the emerald ash borer (EAB), an insect that kills ash trees. The quarantine that begins today follows the discovery of the invasive beetle in a sixth Iowa county.
State entomologist Robin Pruisner says every community needs to implement “proactive measures” to prepare for emerald ash borers. “It’s not an if, it’s a when. So, by the quarantining of the entire state, we are essentially telling communities it is time to take fast action now,” Pruisner said.
EAB was identified in Waterloo, the county seat of Black Hawk County, during routine trimming of street trees. The insect was previously confirmed in Allamakee, Des Moines, Jefferson, Cedar, and Union County. The statewide quarantine will restrict some movement of hardwood firewood and other similar materials out of Iowa.
The “action” cities should take can start with a simple inventory of local ash trees to help determine the next steps. “Are they going to maybe do some treatment? Are they going to do some proactive removal? Are they going to prioritize the trees they need to take care of first? Every situation will be a unique situation, but it does start with that inventory,” Pruisner said. “Knowing what you’ve got is the first step.”
In recent years, many Iowa cities — including Waterloo — have been removing hundreds of ash trees located in public areas hoping to stop the spread of EAB. “Waterloo still has over 4,000 ash trees in public right-of-ways, parks, and golf courses that they need to deal with,” Pruisner said.
According to the USDA Forest Service, Iowa has an estimated 52 million rural ash trees and approximately 3.1 million more ash trees in urban areas. Pruisner is urging Iowans not to transport firewood across county or state lines. “Firewood doesn’t move just emerald ash borer, there are a host of insects and diseases that it can move and spread to other areas. So, we continue to recommend to buy local and burn local,” Pruisner said.