Bug Blog

Wasp Set to Kill Invasive Borer

Wasp Set to Kill Invasive Borer

Ash trees in Colorado are under serious threat from a large beetle called the Emerald Ash Borer.  Forest Service officials have decided to use a predatory pest that eats the beetles’ eggs as a possible solution.

The bug that they’ve recruited is a non-stinging parasitic wasp. The flying insects are only about the size of a red pepper flake, with about fifty to a bottle.  The wasp-filled bottles are being placed all around the Boulder area as a first step to fighting the ash borer.

This type of wasp has been successfully released before to contain destructive bugs.  In this case, the infestation is so severe that officials need to implement protective measures swiftly.

The ash borer does its damage not by chewing the leaves or eating the bark, but by laying eggs inside the tree.  As their young develop, they carve spiral pathways throughout the inside of the tree, disrupting its ability to transport water.

It can take three to five years for the ash borer to kill a healthy tree

“It’s pretty bad,” said John Kaltenbach, a biological control specialist for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “It’s probably the worst pest Colorado has ever seen.”

The insect came from wood transported from Asia, and did damage in Michigan for years before being detected.