Team vs. beetle

John Lawrence’s message from June 4, 2018

A shiny green beetle, about a half-inch long, soon may be appearing in an ash tree near you. It’s the time of year when the emerald ash borer and the damage it causes become easier to see. An invasive and destructive tree pest, EAB is damaging ash trees in over half of Iowa. Did you know?

  • EAB is native to Asia, where native parasitic wasps and Asian ash tree resistance keep it under control. Through international trade, EAB accidentally was introduced to North America. It was first found in the U.S. (southeast Michigan) in 2002. Since North American ash species have not developed resistance to fight back, EAB continues to spread.
  • EAB was first detected in Iowa in 2010, when it was officially confirmed in Allamakee County. In April 2018 with USDA confirmations in Taylor and Carroll counties, EAB now has been detected in 57 counties. If EAB is found in one location in a county, eventually it will be found elsewhere. For example, EAB was officially detected in Story County (in Story City) in 2014, and was found in Ames last week.
  • The adult beetle colonizes the top of ash trees first and then moves down the tree. The larval stage tunnels just under the bark, feeding on wood tissue containing nutrient- and water-conducting vessels. The ash tree will die within two to five years.

Fortunately, there is a bright spot amid the destruction: The Iowa EAB team provides EAB diagnostic assistance to landowners. The team includes ISU Extension and Outreach specialists in entomology, horticulture and forestry; and officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the USDA Forest Service. Through collaborative efforts, the team helps identify where EAB has been detected in the state, and educates Iowans about treatment options for healthy ash trees and alternative species to replace declining or damaged trees. The emerald ash borer is spreading across the state, but the Iowa EAB team is making sure Iowans are prepared.

More notes

  • Deb Sellers and Ross Wilburn are leading a task force to determine how we can improve communication within ISU Extension and Outreach. I’ve asked the task force to gather information from across the system, assess what they learn and share their recommendations with the Leadership Team. On May 29, the task force reviewed current methods of communication within our organization and met with members of the Leadership Team to hear their perspectives. One theme that surfaced was that a lack of clarity in roles, structure and processes might be contributing to our communication challenges. The task force is working on ways to collect input from internal stakeholders throughout our system. Please contribute to this process when asked. As their work progresses, the task force will post reports on Cybox.
  • As I mentioned during annual conference, I intend to visit every extension region in the state to learn from staff, partners and stakeholders. The first four visits are scheduled for the second half of June. I will keep you informed as plans develop.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

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