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  • Michelle Anderson

Emerald Ash Borer: Devastating Iowa’s Ash Tree Population Since 2010

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

The Emerald Ash Borer, the name is as telling as the destruction these little green pests leave in their paths. EAB was first discovered in 2002–according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources—near Detroit, Michigan. It was then discovered in Iowa, near New Albin on a little Island in the Mississippi River in 2010.

The Ash Tree is one of the most common trees found and planted in Iowa; there are an estimated 55 million Ash Trees throughout the great state of Iowa. As of June 2023, Emerald Ash Borer has been found in 97 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Since 2010, the Emerald Ash Borer has devastated Iowa’s Ash population.

In this blog post we will take a deeper dive into what EAB looks like, what makes it so destructive and how YOU can help prevent the spread of Emerald Ash Borer. Let’s go.

What Does EAB Look Like?

Emerald Ash Borer is a one-half inch metallic green insect. They are a narrow bullet shaped beetle, with a flat back and a squared head. The larvae of the adults are an off-white with flat-segmented bodies. Refer to this article by Purdue for identification.

The Emerald Ash Borer
Image provided by Getty Images

How Does EAB Affect Ash Trees?

While the adult EAB doesn’t directly kill the Ash Tree itself, they lay the seed of its death. Literally. The larvae laid by the adult insects feed differently from their adult counterparts who feed outside of the tree on the leaves. EAB larvae are beneath the bark of the Ash Tree feeding on the living plant tissue, creating tunnels throughout the tree underneath the surface of the bark. If the tree is not treated right away to rid it of this deadly insect, there is 100% chance the tree will die and spread the infestation further.

These are the tunnels of Emerald Ashe Borer Larvae from feeding on the trees live tissue.
Tunnels left by Emerald Ash Borer Larvae

Call A Tree Care Professional

There are many insects that look similar to the Emerald Ash Borer, so identification can be difficult but not impossible. If you are trying to identify an Emerald Ash Borer, you can refer to the previous text and click on the link provided. If you are still not sure after doing research, it is best to call your trusted local tree care professional so they can investigate the tree(s) and discuss the next steps if the insect is positively identified.

Waste No Time

As tree care professionals we cannot stress enough how much of a threat Emerald Ash Borer is to the Iowa Ash Tree population. This invasive pest has already devastated hundreds of thousands of its population already, it will continue and will not stop if we don’t work together to try and stop the spread when we are able.

Ash Trees are so populous in Iowa that 17% of the street canopy are Ash Trees, can you imagine how many of them make up Iowa’s forests?

We strongly urge you to contact your nearest and trusted local tree care professional to properly identify the pests so that they can properly assess the situation and plan the next course of action. If not taken seriously, the insects will spread throughout the Ash Trees near it.

We can all work together to stop the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer by wasting no time if you suspect an infestation or the start of one.


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