In the ongoing battle to stave off the emerald ash borer, Minnesota wildlife officials are calling in the troops—another set of insects.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has been releasing stingless wasps, which prey upon the beetle, every two weeks or so since June, the state’s ash borer biocontrol coordinator Jonathan Osthus told the Winona Daily News. Winona, Minnesota has been combatting the insect’s incursion since discovering it there in April, the newspaper said.
Winona is just one of several places that are using the wasps, which eat the ash borer and lay eggs in its larva, the Winona Daily News said. The wasps, like the beetle, are originally from Asia, where the two insects have the same relationship as they do on Turtle Island, according to NBC affiliate KTTC. Even so, it’s not a cure-all, a tree biologist told the station. The American version of the wasp was cultivated in a U.S. Department of Agriculture lab, and their use started several years ago, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The goal is not to eradicate the pest so much as prevent it from destroying the hundreds of millions of ash trees that populate North America, the Star Tribune said.
"We know that is isn't going to eliminate the emerald ash borer, but hopefully it can slow it down a little bit," Tree Care Adviser Nancy Reynolds told KTTC News.
The emerald ash borer is decimating ash forests all over the upper Midwest and the northeastern United States, up into Canada. It destroys not only ash trees but also threatens entire ecosystems that depend on them, The New York Times reported recently.