Canada’s beautiful ash forests are under threat from the invasive and ferocious emerald ash borer, a small jewel green beetle that is native to northeast Asia and was first seen on the North American continent in 2002. The larvae of the emerald ash borer burrow and chew under the bark of ash trees, cutting off their supply of nutrients and water, and are so destructive that they can reduce a healthy tree to dead wood in a year or two. The emerald ash borer has been wreaking havoc in Canada virtually unchecked for almost two decades but hopefully, it has now met its match.
Canada is taking the fight to the Emerald Ash Borer
Canadian researchers have been working hard to find a way to rid our ash trees of this scourge and they may have found the answer in the form of an Asian parasitic wasp. For the first time in our battle against the emerald ash borer, Natural Resources Canada is successfully raising and releasing their own wasps, Tetrastichus planipennisi, to attack EAB. Using wasps against the emerald ash borer is not new and since 2013, Natural Resources Canada has been importing Tetrastichus planipennisi from the United States, but as part of their integrated pest management program, they are now raising and releasing their own wasps in the most widely targeted attempt to manage the emerald ash borer in Canada.
What is integrated pest management?
Integrated pest management is an ecosystem-based bio-control strategy that focuses on the prevention of pests through a combination of pest control techniques that minimize the risks to people and the environment, including biological control, habitat manipulation and the introduction of natural predators. No bi-control strategy is without risk and there are always concerns when introducing one species to control another, but this type of integrated pest management has been used very successfully in the past. And it is not done without first conducting appropriate background testing and research. This currently appears to be the best hope we have for controlling the emerald ash borer. The release of these wasps will not entirely eliminate the threat posed by the emerald ash borer, but it will hopefully help control the populations and spread of this pesky creature.
A targeted approach to emerald ash borer
The emerald ash borer has no natural predators in Canada and not even the cold is enough to destroy this tenacious beetle, but hopefully, that is changing. The wasps that are being released by Natural Resources Canada are native to China and do not sting or have an adverse effect on humans or other organisms, but they thrive on emerald ash borer grubs.
Female wasps are drawn to ash trees that are infested with emerald ash borer larvae and as part of their reproductive cycle, the tiny wasps lay 50 to 60 eggs inside the EAB larvae. When the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae survive by feasting on the bodies of their hosts and destroying them from the inside out. Development from egg to larvae to adult wasp takes four weeks. The wasps then fly out, breed, lay more eggs and the cycle repeats itself a number of times throughout the summer. The wasps survive for approximately a month. Over time Natural Resources Canada hopes to continue to breed and grow their wasp population and release them every summer to keep the emerald ash borer under control and hopefully help us save our precious ash trees.
What can you do?
It is important for everyone in Canada to join the fight against the emerald ash borer. You need to be vigilant and constantly on the lookout for signs of EAB on your property. If you suspect your trees are infected with emerald ash borers, you must immediately contact a reputable tree services company, like Martin’s Tree Service, to deal with the problem.
Martin’s Tree Service can assess the situation, make recommendations and safely remove any trees that are infected or have died.