Will Wasps Stop the Emerald Ash Borer’s Destruction in Iowa?
Will Wasps Stop the Emerald Ash Borer’s Destruction in Iowa? The emerald ash borer most likely came to America in 2002 on a cargo ship carrying ash wood. This native of East Asia is an invasive species in the US and has been highly destructive to ash trees. This little green bug has spread throughout the eastern US but has reached as far west as Wyoming. In order to stop it from spreading further, some states have taken measures such as removing ash trees in infested areas. Quarantining firewood, and insecticides, are also methods taken, all of which have done little to stop the EAB.
A stingless parasitic wasp
A different idea was provided by Iowa’s Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Introduce a stingless parasitic wasp, the natural enemy of the EAB, to the environment (bottom picture). The two types of parasitic wasps are raised in the USDA EAB Parasitoid Rearing Facility. They are shipped to Iowa for release. One of the species (tetrastichs planipennisi) is the size of a grain of rice and parasitizes the EAB by laying their eggs into the EAB larvae. This stops them from developing into adults. The other species (Oobius agrili) lays its eggs inside of the EAB eggs, preventing them from ever hatching. Measures have been taken to ensure that these wasps will not affect any native creatures where they are released. There is always a concern that these wasps may target the native wood boring beetle and further disrupt the environment.
There is no expectation that the wasps will completely wipe out the EAB population. Rather, there is hope that they will help control the EAB population and lessen their impact on the environment.
Will fighting one non-native species with another be the solution, or will it only create more problems?