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Biocontrol: Fungus and wasps released to control emerald ash borer

Date:
May 2, 2011
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
Scientists are making an effort to contain the emerald ash borer's destructive march through U.S. forests. Researchers are testing a fungal pathogen that could be used as a biocontrol, along with the release of non-stinging wasps that are the beetle's natural enemies. Wasps have now been released in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland, and releases are planned in several other states.

Tetrastichus planipennisi, a parasitic wasp native to China, has been released in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland as a possible biological control of the emerald ash borer.
Credit: Stephen Ausmus

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are playing a key role in efforts to contain the emerald ash borer's destructive march through the nation's forests.

Researchers with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are testing a fungal pathogen that could be used as a biocontrol, along with the release of non-stinging wasps that are the beetle's natural enemies. Wasps have been released in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland, and releases are planned in several other states.

John Vandenberg, an entomologist with the ARS Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health in Ithaca, N.Y., is evaluating Beauveria bassiana, a fungus that is the active ingredient in a commercially available insecticide. Researchers have found that the fungus helps to control emerald ash borer beetles when it is applied to infested trees before wasps are released.

Results, published in the journal Biological Control, show the fungus kills beetles and persists better on bark than on leaves. More recent work shows the fungus does not harm the wasps.

The beetles were first detected in the United States near Detroit, Mich., in 2002 and have since wiped out huge swaths of ash trees in forests and tree-lined neighborhoods. Along with the ecological implications, ash trees are used to make furniture, tool handles, baseball bats, and other wood products.

In other work, Jian Duan, an entomologist at the ARS Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit in Newark, Del., is working with state and federal partners to determine how well the three wasp species being released, Oobius agrili, Tetrastichus planipennisi, and Spathius agrili, are surviving the winter in different Northeastern habitats and whether any one of the wasps is more effective than the others.

Duan also recently published a preliminary assessment focused on whether the wasps were able to become established in three stands of natural forests in Michigan. His findings, published in the journal Environmental Entomology, showed that at least one of the wasps (T. planipennisi) had become established in three release sites in Michigan, and that T. planipennisi was the most abundant species of parasitoid wasps attacking emerald ash beetle larvae a year after release.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. The original article was written by Dennis O'Brien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Louela A. Castrillo, Leah S. Bauer, Houping Liu, Michael H. Griggs, John D. Vandenberg. Characterization of Beauveria bassiana (Ascomycota: Hypocreales) isolates associated with Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) populations in Michigan. Biological Control, 2010; 54 (2): 135 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocontrol.2010.04.005
  2. Louela A. Castrillo, Michael H. Griggs, Houping Liu, Leah S. Bauer, John D. Vandenberg. Assessing deposition and persistence of Beauveria bassiana GHA (Ascomycota: Hypocreales) applied for control of the emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), in a commercial tree nursery. Biological Control, 2010; 54 (1): 61 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocontrol.2010.03.005

Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Biocontrol: Fungus and wasps released to control emerald ash borer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110426111415.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2011, May 2). Biocontrol: Fungus and wasps released to control emerald ash borer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110426111415.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Biocontrol: Fungus and wasps released to control emerald ash borer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110426111415.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

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