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Woodpecker Damage on an Emerald Ash Borer Infested Tree

This short video shows the flecking damage caused by woodpeckers searching for overwintering emerald ash borers in an infected ash tree. 

La Porte City, IA

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • What’s on the snow? 
  • What would cause chunks of bark to be ripped off a tree?
  • Can you identify the tree by the bark?
  • What would the woodpeckers be looking for? 
  • What would be the prognosis for this tree, being infested with the emerald ash borer?
  • Over time, what will happen to forest stands where ash trees are a major component? 
  • Are there any previous events where a pest caused a major change in forest tree composition? 

Classroom Suggestions

  • This phenomena highlights the damage caused by invasive species. Each ash tree at this location shows this damage. It can be used as a catalyst to learn about invasive species, ecological succession, forestry management, conservation, and more. 
  • Students can use this to begin further investigations into other troublesome invasive species (and non-troublesome exotics). 
  • Students could go further into identifying tree or plant pathogens and pests to understand that illnesses aren’t confined to only humans or animals.

Related Resources

  • Iowa DNR: Emerald Ash Borer: The DNR’s resource page features lots of information about the emerald ash borer, including damage, treatment, firewood and more. 
  • Arrest That Pest! Lesson Activity: Purdue University Extension has a series of lessons on invasive species. These could be easily adapted to fit your specific location, species, or student age. 
  • Don’t Move Firewood: Extensive resource page with information on the connection between firewood and the spread of invasive forest pests. 
  • Symptoms and Signs of EAB Damage: University of Wisconsin website with pictures and descriptions of what to look for to see emerald ash borer damage on a tree. 

Iowa Core Alignment

Life Science
High School (9-12)
Disciplinary Core Idea
LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

Credit Info

Submitted by Craig Hemsath


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