With the emerald ash borer beetle devastating ash tree populations throughout the United States – including Connecticut, solutions to help control the insect have become a high priority. Thanks in part to research from the University of Delaware and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, a host-specific parasitoid wasp from Russia — Spathius galinae — has been approved for release to help control the invasive emerald ash borer.

The US Department of Agriculture hopes these special wasps will be a key ally in the fight against emerald ash borers, invasive beetles whose larvae have destroyed trees across vast swaths of northern and eastern America in just a few decades.

The USDA found four types of wasps to try against the emerald ash borers. They all lay their eggs inside borer eggs or larvae, killing them before they turn into wood-munching beetles. Government scientists spent some time figuring out how to make these wasps happy before their deployment and made sure the wasps wouldn’t go after anything besides emerald ash borers.

Once released, the wasps will track down emerald ash borers by sniffing at ash trees; they can actually smell the difference between healthy trees and infected ones. Each wasp will zero in on a target by feeling out the vibrations the beetle larva causes as it roots through the tree. Then, the wasp lays its eggs on the baby emerald ash borer. When the wasp eggs hatch, the baby wasps will feed off the emerald ash borer, killing it.

While the wasps can’t save trees that are already damaged, they can — scientists hope — reduce emerald ash borer populations enough to protect trees that are currently healthy.

Video: Wasps Released to Fight Emerald Ash Borer

Article Resources:

  • http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-government-is-releasing-millions-of-parasitic-wasps-across-24-states/ar-BBtz120
  • https://entomologytoday.org/2016/05/26/usda-to-release-russian-wasps-against-the-emerald-ash-borer/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasitoid
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spathius_galinae

The above program will take many years to roll out and see an effect. If you have immediate concerns, Mighty Oak Tree & Lawn Care offers emerald ash borer treatment and integrated pest management programs throughout Connecticut. Contact us today to learn more!