It’s official; despite preventative measures, the emerald ash borer hits New Jersey and puts its trees in grave danger.
This little critter is actually a vicious parasite of trees that feeds off is nutrients and its leaves until there is nothing left to feed on and then moves to another victim. The adults feed on the tree’s leaves, but that is the least destructive aspect about the biology of this parasite.
The Emerald Ash borer is parasitic in its larval stages and it is free living as an adult. The fertilized female finds cracks in the tree bark or small holes and lays its eggs in them. Then, small larvae emerge from these eggs and burrow under the tree bark and start crawling between the bark and the wood because this is where the tree’s nutrient vessels are located.
Then, the larvae feed on the nutrients of tree, leaving it undernourished and they begin to grow in size. Their bodies are segmented and they have a tapeworm-like appearance. As they grow in size, they move around in spirals and deteriorate the tree enough to leave extremely visible marks. If part of the tree bark is removed in the area adjacent to a burrowing hole, then the trajectory of the Emerald Ash Borer will become visible.
After enough time and nutrients, the larvae develop into pupae and then these pupae turn into adults, that leave the tree when they feel ready to do so, through a hole or some crack in the tree bark. The adults have an impressive emerald green exterior, which makes them easy to spot, for those who are looking. The feed in the tree’s leaves and they buzz around in search of their mates.
The ash trees can last for a few years if they are infested with Emerald Ash Borer, because once they take hold of the tree, they remain there, as the tree offers them shelter and nourishment alike.
This small critter is presumed to have come to America along with wood transports from Asia, where the trees have developed natural methods of fighting off the parasite, as they have been dealing with it for millions of years. The American Ash trees however, are a naive population and therefore they are extremely vulnerable to the infection.
There is a quarantine zone that includes the Emerald Ash Borer infested states and they must abide specialized rules, in order to prevent the transmission of the parasite to more and more states, that occurs as infested wood, along with the parasite is transported to an area that is not infested.
This is why wood transports from these states to those that have not been infested are illegal. Interstate transport among the quarantined states has recently been made legal however, in order to support local business.
Unfortunately, new parts of New Jersey have now been included on the quarantine list. The new affected regions are Westampton, Bridgewater, Ewing, Hillsborough and West Windsor, where the green critter has been identified in traps that were set onto the trees.
Therefore, the authorities advise locals to take special care of their trees, by putting up traps. The best possible way to go about the preventative methods is to call a specialist, because a small investment in the beginning will help people keep their trees.
According to a report conducted by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, they plan to implement biological control methods in order to stop the Emerald Ash Borer from spreading throughout the state. They plan to use parasitoid wasps, which are the Terminators of the arthropod world.
These wasps lay their eggs in a very violent manner in their hosts ( in this case, the Emerald Ash Borer). The larvae then develop inside the host. As they get larger and larger, the larvae eventually kill the host and emerge from the carcase and go on to develop as adults.
This is just one of the many methods of control that the government will have to implement, because the Emerald Ash Borer has been spreading far and wide since it was first discovered in 2002.
It remains to be seen if this complex system will manage to keep the green parasite on hold, but a great many trees will be lost nation wide if the infestation keeps growing from here on.
Image Source: datcpservices.wisconsin.gov