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Second county now infected with emerald ash borer

(Radio Iowa) – The emerald ash borer has been found in another Iowa county. State Ag Department entomologist, Robin Pruisner, confirmed the find today during a conference call with reporters.

“A concerned homeowner contacted the city of Burlington about an ash tree in decline. With the Department of Natural Resources assistance, suspect galleries were found under the bark,” Pruisner explains.

“Further bark peeling revealed a beetle that had just died before emergence. That beetle was officially confirmed to be an emerald ash borer, thus making Des Moines County officially infested.” The insect that destroys ash trees, was first found in Iowa three-years ago in extreme northeast Iowa on Allamakee County’s Henderson Island in the Mississippi River.

The latest beetle is believed to have come from an infestation in neighboring Illinois. Pruisner says the state will now institute a quarantine to try and slow the movement of the beetle.

“We will have to quarantine at a minimum Des Moines County. And that quarantine is on ash products like ash logs and ash lumber that may still have bark attached to it,” Pruisner says. “And then because identification is so difficult when it comes to firewood and woodchips, it includes all hardwood firewood and wood chips. It also includes nursery stock, though for the most part industry has responded and is no longer selling ash nursery stock.”

She says they will look at the situation and determine if the quarantine will extend to neighboring counties. “What we have to consider is the wood products industry down in that part of Iowa and if a one-county quarantine will work. Or, in order to meet our goal of the slowing the spread of emerald ash borer if we need to look at a more regionalized concept so that industry can continue to operate in that area in and out amongst the counties where they are typically moving products,” Prusiner explains.

Officials said when the insect was first discovered in Iowa that is was not a matter of if the infestation would spread, but when. Prusiner says that is why she was not surprised that another county has now been infected. “Because of the distance to a known infestation in Illinois — and each year I have kind of held my breath kind of amazed and awed that we have not had another find. It was kind of a relief to actually find another one to know, hey, we are capable of finding it,” Pruisner says.

There is no real way to kill off the bugs once they infect a tree. Many cities are cutting down their ash trees as a preventative measure to keep the beetle from spreading. Officials estimate Iowa has 52-million rural ash trees and another 3.1-million in urban areas.