Jan 20

Emerald ash borer beetle discovered in Des Moines

Emerald ash borer adult. Photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University, www.insectimages.org

Emerald ash borer adult. Photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University, www.insectimages.org

DES MOINES, IOWA Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has been positively identified in a residential tree on the western edge of the city, south of Urbandale Boulevard, making this the first siting of this invasive beetle within Des Moines city limits.

EAB kills all ash tree species and is considered to be one of the most destructive tree pests ever seen in North America. Public Works Forestry crews recently made the discovery while removing a damaged branch from a large ash street tree. Inspectors from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) provided further inspection, and sent a larva sample to Iowa State University’s Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic in Ames. The sample was positively confirmed as emerald ash borer on Friday, January 8, 2016.

In 2014, Des Moines Public Works began EAB treatment and removal programs for an estimated 6,000 ash trees on public land. Tivon Feeley, State Forest Health Coordinator, upon providing inspection of the city’s ash sample, estimated that the insect had been in the tree for approximately three years. The city had assumed the presence of the insect for several years now, and enacted its EAB program in advance of this confirmation. Further, the city conducted a landowner survey during the summer of 2015. The survey revealed that there are approximately 10,000 ash trees located on private property within the city. This represents a significant challenge to residents, some of whom will have to treat or remove one or more ash trees.

The total impact of Emerald Ash Borer to Iowa’s wood products businesses is over $27 million or an annualized loss of approximately $1 million in 2011 dollars for now into perpetuity for Iowa’s economy. The result changes with the discount rate (for example, the total present value of losses go up if the discount rate goes down to the current Federal Funds rate target of 0.25%). Additionally, other economic losses would include non- timber products like seed production, reduced wildlife habitat and over a $2.5 billion loss of services from community trees. If Iowa can slow the spread, or find a solution to stop the spread of Emerald Ash Borer – losses to homeowners, wildlife, forest landowners and the wood products industry can be mitigated.

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