Emerald Ash Borer (photo/ISU Extension)

Emerald Ash Borer (photo/ISU Extension)

IOWA CITY – Woodpeckers helped pinpoint emerald ash borer, an invasive pest that kills all ash trees, on the University of Iowa campus.

Johnson County’s confirmation brings to 30 the number of counties where emerald ash borer has been found in Iowa.

That includes Linn County, where live larva of the beetle was detected in Cedar Rapids in October.

Learn more about the Iowa City confirmation, from the state of Iowa’s EAB team:

Emerald ash borer (EAB), a tree-killing pest of ash trees, has been confirmed in Iowa City. The discovery was the result of University of Iowa – Facilities Management – Landscape Services personnel contacting the Iowa EAB Team after locating trees on campus appearing to be under attack by this invasive pest. Upon further examination, a suspect specimen was collected and later confirmed positive by national identifiers with the USDA.

There are now thirty counties in Iowa confirmed positive for EAB – more than a third of those coming from last year alone. This exotic pest of Asia first made its presence known in Iowa in 2010. On the national scene, EAB has spread to 25 states destroying tens of millions of ash trees.

EAB is a metallic-green beetle that measures approximately ½ inch long. The immature stage of the insect feeds on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the trees ability to transport water and nutrients. EAB infested ash trees include thinning or dying branches in the upper canopy, evidence of woodpecker activity, S-shaped feeding galleries under dead or splitting bark, D-shaped exit holes, and water sprouts (along the trunk and main branches).

“The Iowa City find is a classic example where the woodpeckers are finding the infested trees before people on the ground,” said Mike Kintner, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship EAB and gypsy moth coordinator. “EAB attack is difficult to detect early on so the dormant season is an opportune time to follow up on ash trees where woodpecker activity is evident and where they just might be feeding on EAB larvae that are overwintering underneath the bark.”

University of Iowa – Facilities Management – Landscape Services officials estimate there are approximately 560 ash trees on campus, with ash composing of about 7% of tree species. The University of Iowa has been planning for the inevitable attack of EAB and has been practicing tree diversification throughout the landscape.

The movement of firewood throughout Iowa or to other states poses the greatest threat to spread EAB and other plant pests. The Iowa EAB Team cautions Iowans not to transport firewood across county or state lines. A statewide quarantine remains in place, restricting the movement of hardwood firewood, ash logs, wood chips and ash tree nursery stock out of Iowa into non-quarantined areas of other states.

At this calendar date, the window for all preventive treatments has closed. If a landowner is interested in protecting a valuable and healthy ash tree within 15 miles of a known infestation, he or she should have landscape and tree service companies bid on work, review the bids this fall/winter, and treat beginning spring 2016 (early April to mid-May).

Please contact Iowa EAB Team members to have suspicious looking trees checked in counties not currently known to be infested. Team members include officials from 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 and the USDA Forest Service.

The State of Iowa will continue to track the movement of EAB on a county-by-county basis. Before a county can be officially recognized as infested, proof of a reproducing population is needed and an EAB must be collected and verified by USDA entomologists.

To learn more about EAB and other pests that are threatening Iowa’s tree population, please visit www.IowaTreePests.com.