Emerald Ash Borer

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An invasive insect killing millions of ash trees

About Emerald Ash Borer

EAB, Emerald Ash Borer Photo The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive insect that has killed tens of millions of ash trees  since it was first discovered in 2002.   EAB kills all ash tree species and is considered to be one of the most destructive tree pests ever seen in North America. The larvae of the insect feed on live tree tissue, damaging the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. 

Dead and dying ash trees are a very significant risk, not only to the property owner, but to anyone or anything within reach of the tree’s canopy.  Since all uptake of water has been shut off by the insect, the wood dries out quickly and becomes extremely brittle.  Branches will fail in perfectly calm conditions creating potentially devastating impacts.  Considering the level of infestation that currently exists in WDM, all untreated ash trees will likely be dead within 2-4 years!

It’s important to note that dead, dying and/or diseased trees on private property that pose a risk to neighboring property can be deemed a nuisance and their removal can be required by the City.  It’s imperative for property owners with ash trees not currently being treated, to have their tree(s) assessed by a private licensed professional and then either treated or removed. 

EAB, Emerald Ash Borer

Well before EAB was confirmed in Polk County, the City of West Des Moines was proceeding with implementation of the City's EAB Management Plan as if the insect was already here.  The Parks & Recreation Department assessed all public ash trees. These included over 1,100 trees in parks, street right-of-way, street medians, and around city buildings. This information was utilized by the City's Urban Forestry Supervisor to schedule pre-emptive ash tree removals. Preventative treatment of over 600 public ash trees began in May 2015.  Most trees removed from City parks, medians, city facilities and parking lots were replaced using a variety of species from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Ash Replacement List. Trees removed from street right-of-way will not be replaced by the City.  Replacement of street trees by adjacent property owners will likely not be possible where underground utilities are present or where space is limited. For more information on EAB and ash trees on public property contact our Urban Forestry Supervisor, John Olds, at 515-222-3417 or john.olds@wdm.iowa.gov.


Steps for Private Property Owners 

• Identify any ash trees on your property.
• Look for possible signs of EAB – sprouts on the trunk, dead or dying tree canopy, excessive woodpecker activity, and/or the presence of EAB larvae or adult insects.
• If you suspect EAB, contact one of the Iowa EAB Team members listed below.
• If EAB is confirmed, it will be the property owner’s responsibility to remove dead and dying ash trees on private property. To find a qualified tree care professional, check out the ISU Extension List of Certified Arborists.
• Treatment options are available and may be a good choice for protecting your ash tree. For information on the latest EAB treatments visit Iowa Department of Natural Resources EAB website
Tragically, EAB is going to alter every community's landscape as well as the composition of our native woodlands for many years. 

To learn more about EAB, please visit www.IowaTreePests.com. For more information about EAB in West Des Moines, contact John Olds, Urban Forestry Supervisor, john.olds@wdm.iowa.gov / 222-3417.

Other Resources

Iowa EAB Team Members

Robin Pruisner

IDALS State Entomologist



Mike Kintner

IDALS EAB Coordinator



Paul Tauke

DNR State Forester



Tivon Feeley

DNR Forest Health Coord



Jesse Randall

ISU Extension Forester



Mark Shour

ISU Extension Entomologist



Laura Jesse

ISU Extension Entomologist



Donald Lewis

ISU Extension Entomologist



Jeff Iles

ISU Extension Horticulturist





WDM City Ordinance - Title 7, "Public Ways and Property", Chapter 10, "Trees and Shrubs"

Iowa Department of Natural Resources EAB Website

Managing EAB: Decision Guide

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