Don’t Move Emerald Ash Borer

EAB

Emerald Ash Borer Trapped in My Car

The ash trees in West Lafayette are in severe decline. All the ash trees along US 52, a major highway show severe ash borer damage. Today I parked my car under a damaged ash tree with my windows cracked while I shopped at a store. It was hot, and as I left, I turned on the AC and rolled up my windows. A few minutes later, I noticed an emerald ash borer on my driver’s side window. When I arrived home, I took its picture, then knocked the beetle into a plastic bag and froze it.

This makes me wonder about the effectiveness of quarantines in areas with heavy beetle infestation. How often do beetles travel by inadvertent hitchhiking even when no ash is moved? The pest is new and much of the public would not be able to identify it. The average person might flick a strange insect out their window without realizing the implications.

Quarantines for the Emerald Ash Borer have been mostly ineffective. Once a beetle is found in a new area, it spreads more quickly than predicted from natural migration. It is possible for beetles to land in or on a vehicle, travel a few or many miles and fly off. This does not involve the movement of ash, nursery stock or firewood. While the spread might be more rapid without quarantines, hitchhiking by the beetles could thwart the best planned quarantine.

It is hoped that quarantines will slow the spread of emerald ash borer to give more time for new solutions to be developed. It still makes sense to quarantine ash products to slow the spread of emerald ash borer. Perhaps new solutions can be developed before it becomes ubiquitous in North America. Inadvertent hitchhiking by the beetles may be adding to the rate of spread and decreasing the time for new solutions to be developed.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Invasive Species. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Don’t Move Emerald Ash Borer

  1. Jordan says:

    Very tragic seeing what a huge impact one species can have on an environment. Here’s hoping a solution can be found to save the ash trees! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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