MOUNT VERNON, Iowa - Mount Vernon is a frontline city in the battle against the invasive Emerald Ash Borer.
City officials don’t have any cases to report yet, but last year the beetle was discovered seven miles away in Mechanicsville.
To make sure Mount Vernon isn’t next, the city has tasked Mike Wehde from public works with inoculating about 300 ash trees on public space.
Wehde is injecting the trees with an insecticide called TREE-age. It kills Emerald Ash Borer larvae, which live under the bark and destroy trees by disrupting nutrient flows.
“It doesn’t prevent the adult from actually boring in and laying those eggs, but once the larvae pupate out, and once they are actively feeding, the chemical will kill them,” Wehde said.
The injections are counter to what other communities are doing to beat the bug. Since 2010, Cedar Rapids has cut down ash trees and replaced them with different species.
Wehde likes the shots better. He said they not only save trees, but are less expensive for Mount Vernon. He estimates it costs about $30,000 for injections verses $900,000 for removal and replacement of trees.
“If we can keep them alive before this hits and cut it off at the pass, so be it,” Wehde said.
Wehde and an assistant have been at it since April. Wehde said about a third of the city’s trees still need treatment. He expects they’ll wrap up in September.
Wehde expects he’ll do the injections every two years over the next decade. He said now that he has the equipment, treatments will be cheaper in the future.
Wehde said the chemical isn’t hazardous to people or animals.
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