Image courtesy David Cappaert – Michigan State University, Bugwood.org
This week state officials confirmed the presence of a second emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation, this time in the town of Burlington in eastern Iowa. Previously, the invasive pest had only been confirmed in extreme northeastern Iowa, in Allamakee County.
Serpentine galleries in an ash tree, created by EAB larva devouring the tree’s growing layers, tipped off Burlington’s city forester and local DNR officials to the presence of an infestation, which was confirmed by USDA.
State Entomologist Robin Pruisner doubts the emerald ash borer made a 200-mile leap south to Burlington. She suspects wood products, possibly contaminated firewood from Galesburg, Illinois, just 30 miles away, crossed the Mississippi River to deposit the next round of EAB in Burlington. Pruisner adds that the threat to Iowa’s ash trees is very real.
I think there is a point where we could not have ash trees in Iowa, but I think it’s a long way down the road. In the epicenter, in that Detroit, Michigan area, they’re to that point, where they virtually don’t have any ash trees left, but that infestation, I think is well over 20 years old, so, it’s been working on it for a long time.
The presence of the emerald ash borer threatens Iowa’s wood products industry, which contributes about 18,000 jobs and $3.9 billion annually to Iowa’s economy. In Pruisner’s opinion, though, it’s communities who are hit hardest by EAB; even with a community with just a 10% proportion of ash trees as street trees or residential trees, she says the cost to remove them, or treat them, can quickly balloon.
Treatment is not suggested for trees outside of a 15-miles radius from a known infestation, and trees must be treated every 1-3 years for the remainder of their lives to prevent an EAB infestation.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and USDA are expected to quarantine Des Moines county soon, which would restrict the movement of wood products such as firewood, ash logs, and wood chips without a permit.