U uses stingless wasps to eliminate emerald ash borer infestation

The University is working with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Forestry to find a solution to emerald ash borer.

Samantha Alisankus

The emerald ash borer has been creating havoc for Minnesota trees since its arrival to the state in 2009.

Since 2010, the University of Minnesota has been working with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service to eliminate the problem.

The team researches how to biologically control the pests using three types of stingless wasps, the natural predators of the EAB.

Due to the EAB infestation, Hennepin and Ramsey counties were both been placed under quarantine by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in 2011.

As part of the quarantine, the counties are prohibited from transferring mature ash wood outside of quarantined areas. In addition, the counties aren’t allowed to use ash wood to make pallet and crate products, unless the wood is “treated by methods approved by the Commissioner.”

University of Minnesota professor Brian Aukema is part of the group researching the wasp and its potential use in combating the EAB. The group is researching how to efficiently release the three species of wasps in EAB-infested areas.

The research also considers factors such as the wasps’ resistance to cold and its dispersal pattern to ensure that the limited supply of wasps reaches the EAB-infested area, Aukema said. The wasps only feed on EAB and therefore, making sure that they reach areas where EABs are present is critical, he said.

Aukema said that the EAB is a serious problem for both Minnesota and the U.S. as a whole.

“It’s moving rapidly and it is killing almost 100 percent of the ash [tree] in its path,” he said. “We’re hoping that biological control will be one more tool that might be able to help in the battle against it.”