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Emerald Ash Borer in Lee County

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The Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Lee County.

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has killed tens of millions of ash trees since it arrived in the United States in 2002. The small, metallic-green beetle was first discovered in Iowa in 2010 and now has made its way to Lee County.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship confirmed its presence in Fort Madison Wednesday afternoon.

"The Fort Madison discovery is the fourth city in Iowa along the Mississippi River where the EAB has been detected since last year," said Mike Kintner, who is the agency's EAB and gypsy moth coordinator.

City Manager David Varley said Fort Madison will hold a staff meeting to try developing a plan to deal with the EAB.

There are now 26 counties in Iowa where the EAB has been discovered, including Des Moines County.  In response, Burlington took down several hundred trees while treating others.

The agency said the insect kills ash trees by burrowing under their bark and disrupting the flow of water and nutrients.  Infested trees can feature thinning or dying branches, evidence of woodpecker activity, and D-shaped exit holes.

The EAB can be easily transferred by moving firewood so there is a statewide quarantine in Iowa.  Trees can be treated to prevent their death but many municipalities choose to remove trees, hoping to prevent the  EAB from spreading.

The state of Iowa said before a county can be officially recognized as infested, proof of a reproducing population is needed and an EAB must be collected and verified by USDA entomologists.