Today is Arbor Day, a day to appreciate trees and to give back by planting saplings and seeds. For many Iowans, Arbor Day serves as a sharp reminder of the importance of confronting and advocating for initiatives to address an insidious issue: Emerald Ash Borer.
The Emerald Ash Borer, or EAB, is a small green invasive insect that has been killing increasingly large numbers of Ash trees across the Midwest. First found in Michigan in 2002, EAB has spread to numerous Midwest states including Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado and Iowa. To date, EAB infestations have killed tens of millions of Ash trees, and while prevention is possible, once a tree is infected, there is no cure.
Once EAB larvae enter a young Ash tree, they tunnel and eat the wood directly underneath the bark, preventing the proper distribution of water and nutrients. After a few years of continual decline, the tree will eventually die. This is not only sad, but also dangerous as falling dead tree limbs can damage infrastructure and pose a hazard to cars and pedestrians.
There is no cure, but the spread of EAB can be stymied. Currently, there are national and state quarantines in effect that prevent ash wood in infected areas from leaving, and help healthy trees stay healthy.
Iowans with ash trees are encouraged to stay updated on the spread of EAB throughout Iowa. If there are confirmed infestations within 15 miles of your home, treatments are available to prevent or deter EAB spread. Another way to discourage EAB spread is to plant a diverse set of trees and plants in your yard. Bio-diversity is an important aspect of a healthy ecosystem, and decreases the impact of invasive species like EAB.
Council member Trees Forever has more information about the spread of Emerald Ash Borers, and tips for homeowners, on their website.