Emerald Ash Borer First Detector Training in Iowa

Laura Jesse, Donald Lewis, Jeff Iles, Yvonne Niles, Jim Patton, Teresa Wiemerslage; Plant Pathology, Entomology, Horticulture, and Agronomy Departments


The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, is an invasive insect from Asia first discovered in North America in Detroit MI in 2002.  The small beetle attacks and kills ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) and has killed tens of millions of ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, with tens of millions more lost in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.  The discovery in early April 2009 of a well established EAB infestation on the border of Iowa in Victory, Wisconsin greatly increased the concern about what this invasive insect pest will mean for the Iowa economy, businesses and homeowners. 

First Detector training is a program within the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) whose goal is to increase awareness and early detection of exotic pests that will negatively impact plants.  NPDN was established as part of the Animal & Plant Disease and Pest Surveillance & Detection Network by the Secretary of Agriculture to the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) to develop a network linking plant and animal disease diagnostic facilities across the country.  The NPDN network is a collection of U.S. Land Grant University plant disease and pest diagnostic facilities, including ISU.


The primary objective of the Iowa EAB First Detector Training is to increase awareness of what EAB is, the damage it causes, and what homeowners and communities can do.  First Detectors are trained volunteers that extend the reach of county extension offices, Extension Entomology and the ISU Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic by sharing information about EAB with the public and if asked, visiting suspect trees to visually assess a potential infestation.


So far three EAB First Detector training programs have been completed (New Albin, Elkader and Ft Dodge.  Additional meetings are scheduled and more have been requested.  One hundred and twenty individuals have been trained and 55 have signed forms indicating their willingness to be a First Detector.

Participants in the First Detector training have received an Iowa EAB First Detector manual that contains an explanation of the First Detector program, tree and insect identification guides and detailed information about EAB, its impact and treatment options

An email list of registered First Detectors has been created and periodic updates on EAB discoveries, biology, habits and treatment options have been distributed.

In addition site visits have been made to the infested area in Victory Wisconsin to gain first-hand knowledge and experience and to gather photographs for training presentations and pamphlets.

The ISU Extension EAB working group continues to participate with several other agencies in sharing information, resources and information.  Frequent meetings and teleconferences involve the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Outcome Statement:   

EAB has not been detected in Iowa, and yet concern and need for information is quite high.  Persons attending the First Detector meetings have increased their awareness and knowledge and have rated the training quite high, with 72% of survey participants saying the meeting had greatly improved their knowledge and skills.


130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer 

Page last updated: August 10, 2009
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu