Friday, May 18, 2007

New destructive pests may be chomping their way into Iowa

A certain type of little green bug has recently been devastating populations of ash trees in the upper Midwest, and now Iowa officials are concerned it may be on its way here.

The emerald ash borer is a destructive pest that has been chomping its way through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and has also been found in Maryland and Canada. State officials in Iowa are so concerned that it may make its way here, they have proclaimed next week "Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week," May 20-26.

Adult emerald ash borers are metallic green color and are usually slightly less than one half inch long.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Rich Leopold are planning a big press conference on Tuesday, May 22 to get the word out about the invading bugs.

According to the Ag Department, there are 25 million ash trees in Michigan alone that are dead or dying as a result of the damage cause by the green beetles. Here in Iowa, we have a population of ab0ut 15 million urban ash trees, and nearly 50 million rural ash trees, all at risk of being munched by the emerald ash borer.

One of the ways the pests have traveled is by hitching a ride on cut firewood that is transported by campers. The Iowa DNR is warning campers to not transport firewood from other states into Iowa.

According to the Ag Department, areas that are currently infested by the emerald ash borer are now under federal and state quarantines, but campers that are unaware of the problem could unknowingly transport infested wood.

(Photo/David Cappaert of Michigan State University and courtesy of www.forestryimages.org)

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