Chinese wasps are taking on the emerald ash borer

Jun 05, 2013
Tetrastichus planipennisi is a parasitoid wasp used to control the emerald ash borer. Credit: USDA Forest Service

The emerald ash borer (EAB), a relatively new invasive insect pest, has killed tens of millions of ash trees throughout the eastern United States since it was first detected in 2002 in Michigan and Canada. This insect has the potential to kill an estimated seven billion ash trees in urban and rural forests and could cause tens of billions of dollars in damage.

To control the EAB, research on its was initiated shortly after its discovery, resulting in a classical biological control program using three parasitoid wasps native to , where the EAB populations in the US likely originated. After research on the biology, laboratory rearing, and host specificity of the three parasitoid species was completed in 2007, federal and state regulatory agencies approved their environmental release in more than a dozen states.

In an article appearing in the June issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology called "Establishment and Abundance of Tetrastichus planipennisi (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) in Michigan: Potential for Success in Classical Biocontrol of the Invasive (Coleoptera: Buprestidae)," the authors observed one of the species, Tetrastichus planipennisi Yang, and found that the populations of these parasitoid wasps have been increasing and expanding in Michigan, which suggests that they will likely play a critical role in suppressing the EAB in that state.

Chinese wasps are taking on the emerald ash borer
The emerald ash borer (EAB), a relatively new invasive insect pest, has killed tens of millions of ash trees throughout the eastern United States since it was first detected in 2002 in Michigan and Canada. Credit: USDA

These tiny wasps, which do not sting humans, lay eggs into or on the EAB larvae.

The researchers sampled trees for wasp broods at six forest sites near Lansing, Michigan. By the fall of 2012, the proportion of sampled trees with one or more broods of T. planipennisi increased from 33% to 92% in the plots where the wasps were released. Similarly, the rates of parasitism on the EAB increased from 1.2% in the first year after the parasitoid releases to 21.2%.

Explore further: Big data part of big plan for WA's marine future

More information: dx.doi.org/10.1603/EC13047

Related Stories

Cornell leads fight against invasive emerald ash borer

Sep 02, 2010

Cornell University is leading efforts to manage outbreak populations of the emerald ash borer (EAB), a beetle that has the potential to devastate ash trees in the Northeast. The new invasive species is already ...

Decoys could blunt spread of ash-killing beetles

Feb 15, 2013

As the emerald ash borer ravages North American ash trees, threatening the trees' very survival, a team of entomologists and engineers may have found a way to prevent the spread of the pests.

Scientists Cryopreserve Pest-Imperiled Ash Trees

Oct 28, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Using cryopreservation methods, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have devised a procedure for storing frozen budwood from ash trees (Fraxinus) and thawing the delicate buds for ...

Recommended for you

Algae invade amphibian egg masses

Apr 24, 2015

The establishment of symbiotic systems requires one organism to live in or on a host. For some North American amphibians, these symbionts are algae and they associate with their aquatic egg masses. Researchers have begun ...

Biodiversity promotes multitasking in ecosystems

Apr 24, 2015

A new study of the complex interplay between organisms and their environment shows that biodiversity—the variety of organisms living on Earth—is even more important to the healthy functioning of ecosystems ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.