A full two-thirds of Iowa’s 99 counties now confirm infestations of the emerald ash borer, which is blamed for killing millions of ash trees nationwide.
Most of the counties with infestations are in eastern and southern Iowa, but the insects are expected to continue moving west. Sioux City’s parks maintenance field supervisor Kelly Bach says the city should be proactive.
“It is within 90 miles of Sioux City, both to the east and to the northwest,” Bach says. “We need to have this in place so that we have a plan rather than, ‘It’s here, now what do we do?'” Bach presented a management plan to the city council Monday. Staff are recommending a mixed approach — cutting down ash trees and replacing them with other species and chemically treating select trees to kill the insect.
Sioux City Mayor Pro-Tem Dan Moore says the city will need to educate people about the insect and they plan to hire a dedicated staff member. Moore says, “We’ve built that into our budget to add someone to take on the issues that will be coming up that we predicted, and he’s predicted, that will happen and occur in the next three years.”
While the destructive bugs can fly, they’re gaining more ground through railway systems and transported firewood. The pesky beetle’s larvae snack on tissue under tree bark, cutting off nutrients and water. Ash trees make up more than a quarter of Sioux City’s trees.
(Thanks to Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio)