It’s springtime and Iowans are likely to start noticing more infestations of the emerald ash borer, which has been found in 98 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
Mike Kintner, an entomologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture, says the tree-killing insects can be hard to spot, and when you do find them, it’s likely too late for the tree, as they may’ve already been there a few years.
The emerald ash borer was first found in Iowa in 2010, and Kintner says tactics to fight the bug have changed.

“In the earlier days, there were marshalling yards where they would take the tree debris and chip it up, and quarantines came into place,” Kintner says. “We’ve just found out through the years that a lot of this stuff, the insect’s going to continue to move, unfortunately, no matter what we do as humans. We can slow it down, but we can’t stop it.”

Only Emmet County, in northwest Iowa, has not had any confirmed cases of the insect. Many communities in Iowa have been systematically cutting down their ash trees, infected or not, and planting different species of trees in their place.

“If you’re a community that has a lot of ash trees, you do not want a lot of declining trees all at once standing dead, because those pose a hazard and risk,” Kintner says. “Another thing too is money and budget. You only have so many supplies, so many workers and so much money. How are you going to deal with all these declining ash trees?”

The treatments are expensive, so many towns opt to saw down their ash trees, as the attack of the insects is inevitable.

“Maybe start thinning those trees, the ash trees that already have some problems with them or you’re not so happy where they’re located,” Kintner says. “Treatments are always a consideration. It’s just that most communities can’t treat all ash trees so you might need to pick and choose. Another thing with treatments is you can use those to prolong removal of ash trees, too.”

The DNR says people are responsible for the spread of the emerald ash borer, primarily through the movement of infested firewood, ash nursery stock, and other ash items.
(By John Slegers, KLEM, Le Mars)


Radio Iowa