Ash Borer bug reaches Iowa - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Ash Borer bug reaches Iowa

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (KTIV) -- It's metallic green and only a about a half an inch long, but it's expected to do up to $5 billion worth of damage to Iowa's economy within the next decade.

The Emerald Ash Borer is originally from Asia, but it's making a home in the U.S., burrowing in the bark of ash trees.

Richard Leopold, Director of Iowa DNR says, "The lumber industry in Iowa, is about a five billion dollar a year industry. It's going to affect that in some way, now this isn't all trees in all places the quarantine is going to be very small to start with maybe a county, two counties in Northeastern Iowa. So this is going to have an effect."

Adult beetles nibble on the ash leaves, but it's the larvae that cause the most damage. Larvae feed on the inner bark disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients. Signs to look for small D-shaped exit holes in the bark and tunnels packed with saw dust under it. It may be five years before you notice the damage, and by then it might be too late. Leopold says the beetle travels up to two miles a year, but it's spreading faster because people transport firewood.

"Don't move firewood, number one. Ask questions, and when you go camping, I mean our camping in our state parks is at record levels, and that's fantastic, and we want people to keep doing that. At the same time we don't want them to get firewood, get the wood once you get to the campground, that's the most important thing," says Leopold.

Another important step treating your ash trees. Leopold says there are individual tree pesticides that may help combat the pests, but it's only effective on an individual tree basis.

"So if you inoculate a tree with a certain pesticide at the beginning of the season, it protects that tree for one season. It metabolizes, so you have to do it every year," says Leopold.

And one downside of the pesticide, if it kills the Emerald Ash Borer, it's also likely to kill other bugs that Leopold says may be beneficial to the tree.

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