Research Project: Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer, Grills plainness, is a beetle that was first discovered in 2002 in the US near the Detroit area and southeastern portions of Michigan. This beetle is believed to have originated in Asia. The theory is that they arrived in the states in packing material made of wood on cargo ships traveling on the SST. Lawrence River, which then leads into the Great Lakes. Since 2002, this beetle has made its way into parts of Canada and now in at least eighteen states in the US (Emerald, n. D. ).

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They are causing major destruction of Ash trees in all of these areas, and Vermont is tarring to take precautions to be prepared if and when these beetles show up in The Green Mountain state. Destruction begins at the larva stage. They live Just beneath the bark of the tree and move in a gig-gig pattern along the tree. As travels under the bark and above the thick layer of wood, it lives a silent and dark world. It takes in the nutrients it needs from the tree. While tunneling through tree the larva is causing damage to the tree by feeding on the thin layer of tissue under the trees bark called the cambium.

After a few weeks of this it metamorphoses into an adult beetle. The beetle then drills or bores its way out of the tree, causing even more harm to the Ash tree. The adult beetle spends its life inside, on or around an Ash tree. It bores holes in and out of the tree and feeds on the leaves the tree produces. Most adult beetles do not stray farther than 0. 5 miles away from the ash tree they spent their larval stage. Males live for two weeks, and females live for around three. While their life is very short they are busy mating, laying eggs and starting the cycle all over again.

The Emerald Ash Borer did not start out being an invasive species. Now that human activity has brought this beetle to a new home, it has no natural enemies and is growing out of control. The beetle is very dangerous because it causes damage quickly and silently. The eggs are so tiny they are hardly possible to see. Within a year the upper part of the trees branches begin to die. The bark is also harmed and begins to fall off in chunks. The destruction of the tree can happen within three years and then the tree is dead.

While this is happening the beetles multiply and move on to other trees starting their destruction on them (Gray, 2008). The spread of the devastation of the emerald ash borer to the ash tree population is significant. This infestation has killed over sixty million ash trees since 2002. Starting in Michigan and now invading many states east as far as New Hampshire, is causing this number to rise. “It is now the most destructive forest insect ever to invade North America,” says Debs McCullough, an entomologist at Michigan State University. “We literally cannot keep up with it” (Hamilton, 2011).

The emerald ash borer has not been seen in Vermont yet. But that does not mean the state of Vermont isn’t getting prepared for this invasive species. Ferment’s neighboring states New York and New Hampshire are already battling their inhabitance. Because this insect ready when the beetle arrives. In New Hampshire, the first beetle was discovered in March of this year. Unfortunately the state was not prepared for the invasion. Kyle Lombard of the N. H. Division of Forests and Lands state that the “Emerald ash borer is the most devastating forest pest we have in North America right now’ (Abattoir, 2013).

He is also concerned with the fact that there is no money in the budget to start removing the infected trees and replacing them with trees that the beetle is not attracted to. Another point Lombard made was the possibility of Job loss due to the loss of these Ash trees. “Jobs are at risk, like the state’s lumber industry which relies on ash to make everything from tool handles to baseball bats and those who sell firewood” (Abattoir, 2013). These are Just a few of the reasons that the State of Vermont is being proactive in the battle with the emerald ash borer.

Though this beetle has not been spotted in Vermont it does have the potential to create havoc in the state. Because of this in 2011 the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and several private contractors teamed up with a division of the United States Department of Agriculture to place 2,251 traps or surveillance boxes around the state. These boxes are bright purple and are triangle shape. You can see them hanging in many ash trees throughout the region. The traps were placed every two square miles in each county. They are made of corrugated plastic and have a very sticky non-toxic glue on them.

The Emerald Ash Borer is attracted to the color of the traps as well as the lures that are placed inside of them. One lure smells like the eaves of an Ash tree which is what an adult beetle would eat. Another lure smells like the bark of one of these trees which would be where a beetle would lay its eggs. After the initial season that Vermont took part in this experiment, the results were very relieving. No signs of the species were found in this state. Vermont continues to place these traps throughout the state each spring in order to survey and to be ready when the beetle appears.

The Emerald Ash Borer has caused much havoc throughout the eastern part of the country. Many states and governmental agencies along with private parties are eating up action plans for dealing with these invasive pests. Some of their responses have been the use of insecticides, the placement of traps and getting the public involved by informing the about the destruction the beetle is causing. Providing information to the public is extremely important. The more society is aware about the Emerald Ash Borer, the more proactive detection agencies can become.

One way these agencies are informing people about this species is by collecting a lot of research and data to present. Many websites offer publications based on the information collected to make homeowners more aware. One website in particular, www. Northeasterly. Info ,offers files on topics such as tree identification, safe insecticides to use, if infested, or any ash tree disposal to name a few. Insecticides have been used to try to control the emerald ash borer. However, there are guidelines for the use of these chemicals.

There is a per acre use limit which means that all ash trees in the same area can be treated more than once in a year with the same chemical. Before treating an area one should pro-rate the acre of the chemicals being used. Insecticides used against the borer may be soil applied, run injected and cover sprays. The soil applied treatment has been tested and has proved to be very inconsistent. Therefore, environmental activists concerned about the use of insecticides moved towards using a trunk injected treatment, but this has too been proven inconsistent in their trials.

Cover sprays, however, seem to be providing mediocre results. While this treatment is providing a little improvement in infestation severity, “it should be noted that spraying large trees is likely to result in a considerable amount of insecticide drift” (Herms, 2009). Insecticide drift is when aerial spraying of these chemicals takes effect on organisms that are not the target. Needless to say, the use of insecticides is not ideal for the environment. Lastly, the placement of traps is another potential solution to the infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer.

For my field trip assignment I went to the location of one of these traps. I found that the trap hanging fairly high in an ash tree. I noticed that the outside of the trap seemed sticky as some insects were already stuck on the surface. This surprised me so I researched the reason why and found that the traps “do not ere the insects in they simply catch them when they land” (Richardson, 2011). The reason for this is research. The boxes are meant to help provide data once they have the beetle on them.

Once one of these beetles are found on the box researchers will then remove it. The goal of this project is to promote awareness of the issue and the devastating effects on the ash trees. These traps are also utilized to detect if any of these borers are in a certain area. I believe that the infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer is serious and that the precautions that are being taken are very important. By destroying the ash tree population, this invasive species in the long run, will be affecting the wood industry as well as the carbon cycle.

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