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NEW METHOD TO BATTLE ASH BORER TO BEGIN IN EVANSTON
Tuesday, July 14, 2009 Special to suffredin.org
EVANSTON, IL – The USDA Forest Service, in conjunction
with other federal agencies, state and local officials, announced today that
Evanston will be the next site in the United States to utilize an alternative
method to battle the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). This aggressive species of tree
borer has had a devastating effect on Evanston’s ash trees, killing about 2,000
trees since 2006.
The USDA Forest
Service plans to release one of three tiny parasitic insect species this week
in north Evanston and in the City of Chicago to help reduce the destruction of
the ash trees. These insects are specialized wasps that search the bark of ash
trees for EAB eggs or EAB. They range in size from a poppy to a sesame seed
and do not harm humans or other animals.These
parasitic wasps use the eggs or larvae of EAB as food and protection for their
own eggs, and consume EAB eggs or larvae before developing to the adult stage.
These are important natural enemies adapted to controlling EAB
populations in its native range of China.
According to the
USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the EAB is a non-native
beetle discovered in southeastern Michigan in 2002. Adult EAB nibble on ash
foliage but cause little damage; it is their larvae that cause the devastation.The larvae feedon the
inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and
nutrients, eventually killing the tree.
The EAB arrived in the United States from
Asia. Since its discovery, EAB has killed tens of millions of ash trees in
southeastern Michigan alone, with tens of millions more lost throughout
Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as in Quebec and Ontario,
Canada. To combat the spread of EAB, regulatory agencies and APHIS impose
quarantines and levy fines to prevent potentially-infested ash trees, logs, or
firewood from moving out of areas where EAB has been discovered. Furthermore,
it has cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators, and forest
product industries tens of millions of dollars.
Native species of
similar parasitic insects suppress the populations of native wood-boring
beetles, such as those that attack oak, apple, and birch. The introduction of
EAB natural enemies from Asia to the U.S. will help restore the balance of
nature disrupted when EAB became established in our ash trees in the U.S.
Physiologically, these EAB natural enemies attack EAB eggs or larva, or
possibly other very close relatives, such as
the two-lined chestnut borer, raspberry cane borer and bronze birch borer. This
is due to the size of the insects, the timing of their development, and their
For example, Oobius
agrili (the species to be released locally) uses the eggs of the EAB in
which to lay its eggs. The eggs of smaller EAB relatives are too small to
support the development of this natural enemy. The USDA Forest Service has
conducted extensive research on Oobius agrili and has previously
released this species at research sites in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and
“This Emerald Ash Borer biocontrol effort
is Evanston’s chance to be on the leading edge of the research effort to find a
way to slow the spread of this destructive pest,” explained Paul D’Agostino,
Superintendent of Evanston’s Parks/Forestry Division. “I believe that the
potential benefits of this effort far outweigh the risks, based on all the
research performed thus far. The potential devastation of the EAB is enormous
if we cannot find some way to suppress its populations soon.”
Environment Board gave their endorsement of the project last month and the USDA
Forest Service has already obtained all necessary permits for the project. This
is a joint project between federal, state and City of Evanston agencies which
is entirely funded by the federal government. For further information on
EAB, please visit www.emeraldashborer.info.