The emerald ash borer.

The state reports the confirmation of an emerald ash borer infestation for the first time in Marshall and Tama Counties.

Iowa Department of Agriculture EAB coordinator, Mike Kintner, says the beetle was discovered in a rural area in both counties north of Le Grand. He says the landowner was out in the wood lot and noticed trees with woodpecker damage and since they were ash trees he called the state. The larvae of the bug that kills ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk is now confirmed in 55 of Iowa’s 99 counties.

Kitner says he’s not sure if this first discovery of the spring will lead to a year like last year for the EAB movement. “In 2017 we had 14 counties show up — which is the most we have ever had — and now we are approaching the first part of April and we’ve had two this year,” Kitner says. “It is hard to tell — it is kind of an unknown how far it is going to spread — and really it comes down to people. We are really the ones moving this insect around. On its own it only flies short distances.”

He says you should remember that moving firewood is the fastest means of travel for the destructive pest and you should get firewood locally as you head out for spring and summer activities outdoors. Kintner says mid-April is the time when EAB treatments for trees will start up again. He says the treatments are for the growing season, so homeowners who have a healthy tree and want to get it treated should start contacting professionals to schedule a time.

There are some do-it-yourself tree treatments out there. “But you’re really limited to trees up to 20 inches in diameter at breast height,” he says, “so if your tree is a size larger than 20 inches in diameter at breast height, you really should seek the help of a professional.” And he says it’s important to get it done before the bugs burrow in.

“You really want to get in the early stages of attack,” Kitner explains, “you don’t want to try to treat your tree and save your tree when it’s already in attack. Get it earlier before it hits and really treat a tree that is structurally sound and healthy to begin with.”

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(Photo courtesy of the Iowa Department of Agriculture)