Emerald Ash Borer Discovered in 3 More Iowa Counties

Tree-killing pest confirmed in Clay, Hancock and O’Brien counties

DES MOINES, Iowa (March 21, 2022) – Emerald ash borer (EAB) has been found in Clay, Hancock and O’Brien counties for the first time. The invasive, ash tree-killing insect from Asia has now been confirmed in all but 10 of Iowa’s 99 counties since its original detection in 2010. 

Insect samples were collected from ash trees in Spencer (Clay County), Forest City (Hancock County) and rural Paullina (O’Brien County). Officials with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed these samples positive for EAB. 

The adult beetles of this insect feed on ash leaves causing very little damage. It is the cumulative damage by larval feeding on the inner bark that eventually kills ash trees. The feeding cuts off the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients, typically killing a tree within two to four years. EAB is a significant threat to all ash species. 

Indicators of an infestation may include canopy thinning, leafy sprouts shooting from the trunk or main branches, serpentine (“S”-shaped) galleries under the bark, bark splitting, woodpecker damage, and 1/8-inch D-shaped exit holes.

While EAB can travel locally by natural means, long distance spread of this insect is attributed to people moving infested material, including firewood. People are reminded to use locally-sourced firewood where it will be burned to help limit the spread of EAB and other invasive pests. 

Now is the time to decide a course of action for ash trees at risk of EAB attack (within 15 miles of a known infestation). Landowners and managers can choose to wait and see what happens, remove declining ash trees and replace them with other species, or use preventive insecticide treatments to preserve and protect valuable and healthy ash trees. Spring, from mid-April to mid-May, is the best time to treat for EAB. Insecticides are most effective when the ash tree is actively growing, and uptake is at its peak. Tree service companies can apply insecticide trunk injections through the summer if soil moisture is available.

See Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication ENT57, Emerald Ash Borer Management Options, for more details about EAB treatment. 

The State of Iowa continues to track the spread of EAB on a county-by-county basis. Before a county can be declared positive, a life stage of the insect must be collected and confirmed. Anyone who suspects an infested ash tree in a county not currently known to be confirmed with EAB is encouraged to contact one of the following:

  • Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, State Entomologist Office: 515-725-1470
  • Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Entomology: 515-294-1101
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources: 515-725-8453

Additional information on EAB, including a county detection map, can be found at iowatreepests.com.

For additional information, contact any of the following members of the Iowa EAB Team:

EAB Treatment Map



About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 14 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land and enhance water quality for the next generation. Learn more at iowaagriculture.gov.

Media Contact:
Don McDowell
Communications Director