By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — The Emerald Ash Borer has finally hit close to home for those in Wapello County.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources issued a press release Wednesday afternoon saying EAB has been positively identified in Eddyville, as well as in the town of Waverly in Bremer County in the northeast portion of the state.
According to the news release, the EAB found in Eddyville was found by a citizen, who then reported the suspect ash tree to the DNR regional forester. The state’s EAB Team then came and inspected the tree, finding EAB larvae and making a positive distinction.
The bug is in its larval stage during the winter months, and that is when they are most dangerous to the trees. The larvae feed on the nutrient vessels inside of the trees and take all of their nutrients and water, which kills the trees. Generally, EAB are dormant when they are in a larval stage, but they continue to be found in new places around Iowa this winter.
Wapello and Bremer counties are the seventh and eighth counties in Iowa to have a positive EAB identification. Blackhawk, Des Moines, Cedar, Allamakee, Jefferson and Union counties are the others.
In a previous Courier article, Gene Rathje, Director of the Ottumwa Parks Department, said he had been checking ash trees in the area and that the infestation in Wapello County was inevitable.
Even though EAB has been found in Wapello County, Rathje said he is still checking trees around Ottumwa, and he hasn’t found EAB in the city yet. But, it again is only a matter of time. Now, the next move is to try and figure out how it got into Eddyville.
“The question is, how did it get there,” Rathje said. “No one knows that for sure.”
On Feb. 4, the Iowa DNR put a statewide quarantine restricting the transportation of firewood, wood chips and ash tree nursery stock out of Iowa. That way, maybe ash trees outside of Iowa can be saved. However, the adult bugs can fly 2-5 miles at one time, so they will make their way to other areas eventually.
There are things that can be done to try and combat their movements. Special insecticides can be put into the vessels of the trees, but not until the weather warms up. During the winter months the vessels inside the threes are close to frozen, and the insecticide wouldn’t be able to flow fluidly through the trees. Mostly, Rathje said, people need to just constantly check their ash trees for signs of EAB.
According to the Iowa DNR, signs for the presence of EAB in ash trees include thinning or dying branches in the top of the trees, water sprouts halfway up the trunk, feeding notches, woodpecker feeding sites, S-shape feeding paths under dead bark and 1/8 inch D-shaped exit holes in the bark.
Anyone who finds possible EAB infestations in ash trees should contact the Iowa DNR right away.
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