Emerald ash borer confirmed as threat to white fringetree

January 15, 2015
Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) on a leaf. Credit: David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), also known as EAB, is an invasive insect pest from Asia that has killed millions of trees in the United States and Canada and has caused billions of dollars of damage since it was discovered in 2002. Fortunately, its damage has been limited to ash trees—or so we thought.

During the summer and fall of 2014, Dr. Don Cipollini, a professor at Wright State University, found evidence that the EAB can also attack white fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus), a species native to the southeastern United States that is planted ornamentally. His observations are described in an article published in the Journal of Economic Entomology called "White Fringetree as a Novel Larval Host for Emerald Ash Borer".

While examining white fringetrees in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Dr. Cipollini found external symptoms of emerald ash borer attacks, including the presence of adult exit holes, canopy dieback, bark splitting, and other deformities. After removing the bark from one of the trees, he found evidence that at least three generations of emerald ash borer larvae had used the tree, and he saw several live larvae that were actively feeding. In addition, he found a dead adult that has been confirmed as emerald ash borer. Additional white fringetrees exhibiting evidence of emerald ash borer attack were also found in Springfield and Dayton, Ohio.

"It appears that borer is eating more than ," Cipollini said. "It may have a wider host range than we ever thought in the first place, or it is adapting to utilize new hosts. This biological invasion is having drastic ecological and economic consequences, and you can't always predict what's going to happen."

The borers attack trees by laying eggs on the bark. The serpentine feeding galleries of the larvae inside the bark disrupt the flow of nutrients and water and starve the tree.

Emerald ash borer larva recovered from white fringetree. (A) Dorsal habitus. (B) Ventral habitus. (C) Dorsal view of head. (D) Ventral view of head. Credit: Entomological Society of America

White fringetree, a relative of ash, is a deciduous shrub or small tree that can grow up to 30 feet tall. It has white flowers and a purple, olive-like fruit, and is growing in popularity as an ornamental. It is known for its relative lack of pest and disease problems, and until now has never been reported as a host to wood borers related to .

Explore further: Researcher finds emerald ash borer may have spread to different tree

More information: Journal of Economic Entomology, jee.oxfordjournals.org/lookup/doi/10.1093/jee/tou026

Related Stories

Borers branch out from ash trees

November 10, 2014

Bad news in the bug department: The emerald ash borer, a tiny, glitter-green insect from China expected to kill virtually all ash trees in the eastern U.S. - unless they are treated with expensive chemicals - may have a new ...

Tree-killing insect emerald ash borer found in Georgia

August 23, 2013

For years, foresters and invasive insect experts—including those at the University of Georgia—have been on the lookout for the arrival of an unwelcome guest in Georgia. Now that the emerald ash borer is here, they are ...

Recommended for you

Mice can smell oxygen

December 2, 2016

The genome of mice harbours more than 1000 odorant receptor genes, which enable them to smell myriad odours in their surroundings. Researchers at the Max Planck Research Unit for Neurogenetics in Frankfurt, the University ...

How single-celled organisms navigate to oxygen

December 2, 2016

A team of researchers has discovered that tiny clusters of single-celled organisms that inhabit the world's oceans and lakes, are capable of navigating their way to oxygen. Writing in e-Life scientists at the University ...

Natural nomads, leatherback turtles opt to stay in place

December 2, 2016

Endangered leatherback sea turtles are known for their open-ocean migratory nature and nomadic foraging habits – traveling thousands of miles. But a Cornell naturalist and his colleagues have discovered an area along the ...

Neural stem cells serve as RNA highways too

December 1, 2016

Duke University scientists have caught the first glimpse of molecules shuttling along a sort of highway running the length of neural stem cells, which are crucial to the development of new neurons.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

katesisco
not rated yet Jan 15, 2015
Oddly enough, the White Fringe tree is or was, before it was nursery grown and subsequently sold widely, a single rare enclave specie. In an evolutionary sense, perhaps this tree/shrub was a previous survivor of decimation of its kind.

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.