‘No confirmed cases’

Sunday, June 24, 2018
The Iowa Department of Agriculture map highlights Iowa counties confirmed to have an infestation of emerald ash borer. Clay County will be visited by the Iowa Department of Agriculture soon to examine possible reports of the insect’s presence.
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Spencer still free of emerald ash borer as Iowa confirmations grow

The list of Iowa counties with confirmed cases of emerald ash borer continues to increase, and so have the fears of a Clay County infestation. The Clay County Board of Supervisors recently discussed evaluation for a lone ash tree, citing the tree’s canopy dieback as a possible indicator of emerald ash borer presence.

An emerald ash borer is a metallic green beetle native to Asia. It is approximately 8 millimeters long, and causes little damage to trees as an adult. However, female adult emerald ash borers deposit their eggs in the bark of ash trees. The deposited larvae then causes extensive damage by impacting an ash tree’s supply of water and nutrients, which on average kills the tree in two to four years. The invasive species is thought to have been introduced to the United States through international trade, being discovered in 2002 in the state of Michigan. Today, Michigan has lost approximately 40 million ash trees to the insect.

The species was first discovered in the state eight years ago, with the state being put under a statewide quarantine for the bug in 2014. According to the Iowa Department of Agriculture, the insect is only a threat to ash trees in the Midwest, including green, white and black ash trees.

According to officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Clay County is still free of the insects, but is receiving reports of indicators associated with the destructive bug.

“We do not have Spencer as a confirmed infestation yet,” said Tivon Feeley, forest health program leader at the IDNR. “We’ve had several reports coming in and we have people ready to go up take a look from the Department of Agriculture. The process is, as homeowners call in and the city calls in to say we think we have it, we send one of the people from the Department of Agriculture to go up and look and collect samples. Once they take samples, we bring them back, we send them to the national identifier if we do think it’s it. It takes about a week, then we would find if we do have it or not. We typically would know, but we still need to have positive confirmation from the national identifiers. We don’t have anything confirmed yet.”

Officials with the Iowa Department of Agriculture said they regularly receive calls suspecting the insect in the summer.

“June is typically the time of year we receive a surge in phone calls about poorly looking ash trees,” said Mike Kintner, coordinator with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. “We urge people to continue to report suspicious symptoms in counties that are not yet known to be infested. People can really help minimize the spread of this pest by not giving it a ride in infested firewood between counties or from home to campsite.”

Four Iowa counties joined the list of 57 others with confirmed presence of the metallic green bug. Those counties impacted include nearly all of southern Iowa and extending as far northwest as Buena Vista County.

“We’ve got four new counties, ... Buchanon, Hamilton, Hardin, and Pottawatomie, but you’re not one of them,” Feeley said. “I would expect in the next week or two, the Department of Agriculture will be up to take a look.”

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