The emerald ash borer is a terrible thing. Let’s hope this wasp does the trick.
In a move strangely similar to the “Simpsons” episode where they released gorillas to eat the snakes that ate the lizards that originally ate all the pigeons, the USDA has agreed to release armies of wasps that eat emerald ash borer larvae. This move is designed to severely limit the spreading ash borer right in its tracks.
This wasp, Spathius Galinae to be exact, is a seldom seen parasitic wasp that primarily only eats emerald ash borer babies. Through research from the University of Delaware, they have found that these wasps specifically target ash trees due to their smell, then gorge on the larvae. However, before this conclusion was met, a bunch of studies had to be performed to ensure this was the case.
“A lot of our work focuses on non-target testing, looking to see if the parasitoid might seek out other insects that live in the same habitats or are taxonomically related to the target pest,” Timothy Watt said in an interview with the University of Delaware. “There is a very rigorous testing model in place to make sure that these organisms aren’t all of sudden going to go attack another insect that’s out there once we release them into the wild.”
Currently, tens of thousands of these wasps are being grown in labs to be released in the northeastern part of the U.S. in hopes the emerald ash borer is about to meet its demise.
With a little luck, hopefully some other species won’t need be needed in the future to deal with these wasps!