Prepare Now For Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is a destructive invasive pest that is wreaking havoc on Iowa and much of the country. EAB has already been found in six Iowa communities leaving many homeowners wondering if their town will be next. Are you prepared for EAB in your community?

A metallic green beetle, EAB is a native insect to East Asia and was imported to the United States on wood shipping crates from China. EAB was first discovered in Detroit, Michigan in 2002; since its first discovery, the pest has been found in 18 states and Canada. EAB attacks all native ash trees causing 100% mortality of the tree. The adult beetle lives on the outside of the ash tree feeding on the leaves during the summer months. The female insect then lays her eggs and the larvae burrows under the bark of the ash tree feeding on the living tissue underneath. As the larvae feeds on the tissue beneath the bark, it makes ‘s’-shaped tunnels which disrupts the flow of water and nutrients for the tree. Trees that have been attacked by EAB can die within two years.

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All ash trees are vulnerable to attack from EAB. So, what can you do?

  1. Identify the trees on your property – know if you have an ash tree and how many. Ash trees can be identified by its compound leaves with 5-11 leaflets. The bark on a mature ash tree has diamond-shaped ridges.
  2. Research tree replacement options to achieve a more diverse mix of trees on your property. Diversity is KEY to protecting against future invasive pest and disease issues.
  3. If you have an ash tree, research your options
    • Do nothing – if the tree is in a wooded area or a location where no harm will come to person or property, consider leaving the tree for wildlife habitat.
    • Treat with insecticides – there are a number of injection treatment options available. Treatment is only recommended if the insect has been found within 15 miles of your community. Make sure to work with a certified arborist or certified pesticide applicator. Treatment is a commitment to the life of the tree.
    • Remove the tree and replace with diverse species – if your tree is small or has existing damage, consider removing it now and replacing with a different tree.
    • Combination of treatment and removal – you can consider treating your tree for a short amount of time and planting something new. That way you give the new, young tree a chance to gain some size before removing an existing ash tree.

There are many resources available for more information on EAB. Make sure you do your research and decide what is right for you.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Iowa State University Extension

Article by Leslie Berckes, Trees Forever

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Leslie Berckes works at Trees Forever, a non-profit that is highly active in starting, implementing, and sustaining community projects. In her role at Trees Forever, Leslie serves as a program manager and field coordinator for the central Iowa region working with volunteers and organizations on projects such as tree plantings, tree care education, native prairie plantings, and more. Leslie enjoys sharing information on the programs that Trees Forever offers and helping Iowa towns take advantage of these programs to make their communities vibrant places to live.

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