Emerald Ash Borer (photo/ISU Extension)

Emerald Ash Borer (photo/ISU Extension)

Bad news out of Burlington, in Des Moines County, Iowa: the invasive emerald ash borer has been discovered on a residential tree, marking the second time the beetle has been found in the state.

Iowa State University Extension issued the following today on July 16, 2013: Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has been positively identified in a residential tree in the city of Burlington in Des Moines County, making this the second location where the invasive beetle has been found in Iowa. It initially had been found on Henderson Island in the Mississippi River in Allamakee County in 2010.

EAB kills all ash species by larval burrowing under the bark and eating the actively growing layers of the trees. EAB is now considered to be one of the most destructive forest pests ever seen in North America.

State Entomologist Robin Pruisner said the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, along with USDA, will be issuing a quarantine for Des Moines County in the near future. A quarantine by state and U.S. agriculture departments means that hardwood firewood, ash logs and wood chips cannot be moved out of the area without a permit.

Pruisner said all Iowans are strongly cautioned not to transport firewood across county or state lines, since the movement of firewood throughout Iowa or to other states poses the greatest threat to quickly spread EAB even further. Most EAB infestations in the United States have been started by people unknowingly moving infested firewood, nursery plants, or sawmill logs. The adult beetle also can fly short distances, approximately 2 to 5 miles.

EAB is native to eastern Asia, and was detected in the United States near Detroit, Mich., in 2002. Since 2003, the Iowa EAB Team has been conducting annual surveys to determine whether and where this pest is in Iowa. The team includes officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the USDA Forest Service.

“Treatments against EAB are too late this year. If you are within 15 miles of Burlington, Iowa, and have a healthy ash tree, preventive treatments can be made mid-April to mid-May 2014,” said ISU Extension and Outreach Entomologist Mark Shour. For more details, see ISU Extension and Outreach publication PM 2084, www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM2084.pdf.

Ash is one of the most abundant native tree species in North America, and has been heavily planted as a landscape tree in yards and other urban areas. According to the USDA Forest Service, Iowa has an estimated 52 million rural ash trees and approximately 3.1 million more ash trees in urban areas. Burlington has about 700 ash trees in the public right-of-way and an estimated 2,000 residential trees.

Shannon Ramsay, founding president & CEO of  Marion-based Trees Forever, noted that millions of ash trees have succumbed to EAB pest infestations across the Midwest and Northeastern United states since it was discovered in Michigan.

“Trees Forever is working with many statewide partners to help communities and homeowners prepare for the significant loss of ash trees, and to be proactive about planting a diversity of new species in their place,” states Ramsay.   “We’re also working with communities, tree groups and Iowa’s state legislators to address the anticipated costs of ash tree removal, disposal and replacement.  Smaller communities just don’t have the staff or resources to handle this looming threat, and state funding and cost share will be needed to help address all of these issues.”

Residents of Iowa should learn what to look for to identify possible health issues with their ash trees, and what legitimate treatments are available in areas that have EAB infestations.  Home and business owners also need to avoid being scammed by individuals or companies who say they have a cure for your ash trees today.  Over-the-counter preventative treatments are only effective on smaller ash trees.  Large, mature ash trees require special treatments that can only be done by certified tree professionals, and the treatments are generally done in the spring of the year.  More can be found on the Emerald Ash Borer information page.

See below for frequently asked questions about emerald ash borer, from ISU Extension. To learn more about other pests that are threatening Iowa’s tree population, visit www.IowaTreePests.com.

Frequently Asked Questions/Answers on Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)

Burlington, Iowa

  1. What is the emerald ash borer? It is a very small, shiny green beetle (½ inch long x ⅛ inch wide; about the size of Mr. Lincoln’s image on a penny).
  2. What does EAB eat? Hosts are species (and cultivars) of ash in the genus Fraxinus. Hosts include green ash (e.g., ‘Marshall Seedless’, ‘Patmore’, and ‘Summit’), white ash (e.g., Autumn Purple®) black ash, blue ash, and pumpkin ash. Manchurian and Chinese ash trees are primary hosts in its homeland [Eurasia]. Mountain ashes (Sorbus species) are NOT hosts.
  3. Where is EAB from? This beetle is native to Asia and is found in China and Korea. It also has been reported in Japan, Mongolia, the Russian Far East, and Taiwan. EAB arrived in the United States sometime before 2002 in wood packing materials.
  4. How did it get to Burlington, Iowa? Most EAB infestations in the United States have been started by people unknowingly moving infested firewood, nursery plants, or sawmill logs. The adult beetle also can fly short distances (2 to 5 miles).
  5. Should I be concerned about EAB? Yes. It kills ash trees, usually in 2-4 years. In the Midwest, millions of ash trees have been killed by EAB since 2002. There are about 700 ash trees in the public right-of-way in Burlington, and an estimated 2,000 ash trees on private properties.
  6. How do I know if I have an ash tree in my yard? Two sources to check on tree identification are: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/ItemDetail.aspx?ProductID=1482 and http://www.extension.iastate.edu/forestry/iowa_trees/tree_id.html
  7. How do I know if my ash tree is infested?Look for the following symptoms:
    1. Thinning or dying branches in the top of the tree
    2. Water sprouts (suckers) halfway up the trunk
    3. Feeding notches on edge of leaflets
    4. Woodpecker feeding sites/many bark flakes on lawn
    5. S-shaped feeding galleries under dead bark
    6. D-shaped exit holes (1/8 inch diameter)


  1. Who can help me determine if my tree is infested? Contact local authorities if you suspect EAB in your tree:
    1. City of Burlington, 319-753-8140
    2. Iowa DNR Forestry, 319-523-2216
    3. Des Moines County, Extension 319-394-9433


  1. Who should be thinking about treating ash trees? If you are a homeowner within 15 miles of a known infested area you can evaluate the health of your tree and if it is healthy you can consider treatment next year. If you are not in a known infested area we do not recommend treatment at this time.
  2. Ash Borer Management Options www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM2084.pdf
    1. Ash trees can be protected with insecticide applied by a commercial pesticide applicator or the homeowner. Trees must be healthy, vigorously growing, and valuable to your landscape.
    2. Most of the treatments must be done each year for the life of the tree. Treatment may not be effective due to past injuries to the tree, age of the tree, soil moisture, soil compaction, and other site and environmental factors.
    3. Preventive treatments are most effective. Infested trees with less than 40% dieback of the crown mightbe saved.
    4. Preventive treatments for EAB are NOT recommended until a confirmed EAB site is 15 miles away. Treatment outside this risk zone is not prudent. This recommendation comes from EAB researchers at Michigan State University.
    5. Systemic insecticides require time and active tree growth for distribution in the ash tree. Most products must be applied in early spring to be effective. An additional fall treatment may be required for larger trees.
    6. Homeowner treatments are effective for ash trees up to 25 inches in circumference (8 inches diameter). Larger tree treatments should be made by a commercial pesticide applicator with experience in treating trees.
    7. Canopy sprays are NOT recommended by ISU Extension and Outreach because of limited effectiveness, the need for specialized equipment, spray drift, and possible adverse effects to nontarget organisms.
  3. If I am contacted by a pesticide applicator to treat ash trees for EAB at this time, what course should I take? Mid- to late summer is TOO LATE to apply a treatment. Next spring (mid-April to mid-May), IF you live within 15 miles of a confirmed EAB infested site, get an estimate for the treatment. Try to obtain at least one additional estimate before any work is done. IF you live outside the risk zone, thank the applicator for showing interest and keep the company information on file.
  4. Where else has EAB been found in Iowa? EAB has been found in two Iowa counties:
    1. Allamakee –northeast Iowa
    2. Des Moines – One urban tree in Burlington was identified on July 10.


  1. Now that EAB has come to Iowa, is there some plan to manage/contain this pest? Yes, a detailed plan has been developed by collaborative agencies. This plan provides the stepwise actions to be taken to contain the pest, and the agencies responsible for the various anticipated actions. The EAB Response Plan and other current Iowa information about EAB are given at: www.extension.iastate.edu/pme/EmeraldAshBorer.html
  2. What does an EAB quarantine mean?A quarantine by state and U.S. agriculture departments means that hardwood firewood, ash logs, and wood chips cannot be moved out of the area without a permit. Homeowners must not remove their ash tree or firewood from their tree to an area outside the quarantine. Tree removal companies must not haul logs or firewood outside the quarantine area unless inspected and treated as required by the regulations.
  3. What should a homeowner or tree care company do with ash trees cut down in or near the infested area? At this time the preferred disposal method is to use the wood within the quarantined area. Des Moines County residents can dispose of wood waste (twigs, brush, limbs, and branches less than 8” in diameter) free of charge. Show proof of residency and a current statement of account information from the Burlington Municipal Water Company indicating trash fees are paid to the City for “free” disposal. Otherwise, the disposal fee is $24/ton — just over a penny a pound.
  4. What general recommendations are available to communities? The Iowa Department of Natural Resources – Forestry Bureau has worked with several communities to deal with EAB infestations. Contact Tivon Feeley (515-281-4915) or Emma Hanigan (515-281-5600) for more information.
  5. Where can I find current information about EAB on the Internet? Sites to gather current information about this exotic pest include:
    1. National site: www.emeraldashborer.info
    2. ISU Extension site: www.extension.iastate.edu/pme/EmeraldAshBorer.html
    3. IDALS site: www.IowaTreePests.com
    4. IDNR site: www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/Forestry/ForestHealth/EmeraldAshBorer.aspx