DES MOINES — With the extreme cold Iowa’s enduring this week, some folks are looking for a silver lining and there are rumors circulating that it’s frigid enough to kill all the larvae of the emerald ash borer.
Entomologist Gary Brewer says it’s an optimistic thought, but he notes the American populations of that tree-killing insect have been staying steady in places much colder than Iowa. “To me that would suggest that the cold weather we’re going to experience for the next few days probably won’t kill them,” Brewer says. “They’re adapted to that and their habitat in Asia is in some very cold areas as well.”
While Iowa’s seeing record-setting cold and wind chills as low as 60-below zero, temperatures should moderate by the weekend with highs back up in the 30s and 40s. Despite reports to the contrary, Brewer says this cold spell will NOT wipe out the pests. Brewer says, “If we think about it, where they first showed up in North America was in colder, harsher climates than we have here, in Ohio and the Great Lakes area and up in Ontario and they’re still doing very fine there.”
Brewer says one way populations of invasive species like the emerald ash borer can be controlled is if other creatures adapt, too, and start using them as a food source.
The EAB was first discovered in Iowa in 2010 on in island in the Mississippi River near the town of New Albin. Since then, the beetle has moved westward and new infestations are found on a routine basis. It’s now in more than 70 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
Studies find there are some 52-million woodland ash trees and more than three-million community ash trees in Iowa.