Responsible for the loss of hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America, the Emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) continues to make its way across the country. First discovered in Michigan in 2002, this exotic beetle currently affects: Ontario, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Virginia, Minnesota, New York, Kentucky, Iowa, Tennessee, Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Georgia, Colorado, New Jersey, Arkansas, Louisiana—and most recently in 2016, Texas and Nebraska.
Native to Asia, the EAB most likely made its way to the United States through transported wood. EAB larvae are considered the primary reason for prolonged tree-loss. During the ‘immature stage’, EAB larvae feed on the inner bark,disrupting the effective flow of nutrients and water throughout the tree.
Over the years, the Emerald Ash Borer has cost property owners millions in tree removal services, pesticides, and research. However, scientists have recently developed a strategy to help keep the infestation under control.
The University of Delaware discovered a parasitic wasp that can combat the EAB and their release has already been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The parasitic wasps use EAB larvae as a host to lay their eggs. Once the wasp eggs hatch, they feed on the EAB larvae. Some wasps have already been released in Connecticut, and the effort was deemed successful.
Due to their success, federal officials are now planning the use of wasps by both governmental and non-governmental agencies. The wasps will not be a threat to humans although there is a chance they could affect other species of insects.