ANKENY, Iowa – The discovery of an emerald ash borer larva in Clinton County in Eastern Iowa means that fully one of every five Iowa counties now has a confirmed infestation.
Widespread emerald ash borer infestations are anticipated to have a price tag of more than two and a half billion dollars for the state of Iowa.
In 2002, the half-inch long pest hitchhiked to Michigan from Asia. That’s also how it spreads through Iowa – mainly in loads of firewood – which led the Iowa Department of Agriculture last year to restrict the movement of firewood within Iowa.
Despite the recent discovery of emerald ash borer in Clinton county in eastern Iowa, State Entomologist Robin Pruisner says luckily, this is the time of year that tree owners can do something about their trees, if they want to keep them.
“Especially those who are within 15 miles of a known infestation,” says Pruisner. “That is the time when you need to start thinking about, do I want to save my ash trees or what are my other options? The treatments are recommended, most treatments good time of the year is mid-April to mid-May to start applying for those. So if you’re thinking about using a certified applicator to do that. Now is your time to contact those arborists, get your bids or those quotes lined up and choose who it is that you want to go with and get that scheduled. ”
An adult emerald ash borer can only fly about five miles, give or take, but since 2002, the bug’s been found in 25 states across the US. Pruisner says in just a few months, the emerald ash borer population is expected to get a lot more active.
“Now’s about the time of the year when I start getting weekly updates on the heat units,” she explains, “and so insects rely on environmental heat to continue their growth. So for instance, if you were in the southern half of Louisiana right now, they’ve actually had enough warm weather where, if there’s emerald ash borer there, now’s the time of the year where those beetles start to emerge and so as we’ve continued to warm up that will continue to press upward and here in Iowa, we usually expect to see beetles emerge in June through July.”
To hear more from Pruisner on the threat of emerald ash borers to Iowa’s ash trees this year, click the audio player above this story.