I have written numerous post about Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive pest that is killing millions of ash trees in North America. Emerald Ash Borers are difficult to detect, which makes management problematic. On their own, they don’t fly far and traps are not efficient. Initial damage often occurs in the tops of trees, a difficult location to survey. How can the beetles be detected? With a little help from our insect friends.
The Buprestid Hunter Wasp, Cerceris fumipennis, will sting buprestid beetles, including Emerald Ash Borer and bring them back to her nest. One way to monitor for Emerald Ash Borer is to locate a Cerceris fumipennis nest and collect the beetles that she captures. The wasp will bring back a representative sample of the buprestid beetles in the area. Programs for scouting use volunteers who stake out the nests and collect the beetles. This method was recently successful in identifying a new infestations of Emerald Ash Borer in the State of Connecticut.
Early identification allows entomologists to give warnings to the public. Efforts to save ash trees from the Emerald Ash Borer are based on early treatment, before trees are damaged. Once trees show signs of damage, it may be too late to treat. Hunter Wasp programs are used in some areas where Emerald Ash Borer is anticipated, but not yet collected. Even in areas where Emerald Ash Borer is known to occur, but not yet widespread, observations of the Buprestid Hunter Wasp can provide useful information about a specific locality. A cool video is on Vimeo.