A Major Invasive Pest Arrives in CT

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Have you ever heard of EAB?  It stands for “Emerald Ash Borer” — and it has been detected in Prospect, CT for the very first time.

However, unless you are involved in keeping up with insect news, trees or invasive plants, you probably have no clue what EAB is — or how you can unknowingly contribute to its spread.

This is why I thought it is important to share, in its entirety, the memorandum below recently issued by the CT Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) of New Haven, CT, with their permission.  It was issued to Master Gardeners on Thursday, July 26, 2012.

The memo below details the detection of EAB, a small shiny metallic green wood boring beetle, in Prospect, CT on July 16, 2012.  This is the first record of this pest in our state, and it was a confirmed identification by federal regulatory officials.

Again – this is the first record of this pest, the Emerald Ash Borer, in Connecticut.

Although the EAB insect is small, approximately 1/2″ long and 1/8″ wide, it has been very destructive to ash trees, killing millions of them in other states, such as MI, OH, and IN.  Its larvae tunnels under the bark leading to eventual death of the trees.

Ash trees, as noted in the CAES Press Release linked below, make up about 4% to 15% of Connecticut’s forest and is a common urban tree.”  

Because EAB was destructive in other states, special detection measures were put in place by authorities and volunteers here in our state. One detection method was the installation of purple traps by the University of CT Cooperative Extension System.  In fact, I wrote about seeing a purple trap hanging from a tree one day on Facebook last year.  Some Facebook friends may remember I posted comments and a link about them.  Other Facebook friends said they had seen them too, wondering what they were.  The purple traps are shaped like a prism box and contain a chemical lure.  These traps help to locate three EAB in Prospect, CT –  but the traps were not the only detection methods used.

Another method was by way of monitoring ground-nesting wasps, as detailed below in the memorandum.  The wasp collects the bodies of beetles, and long story short – EABs were found in the wasps nests.  This was a method of following the hunters trail, so to speak.  And it was successful due to the efforts lead by “Wasp Watchers” networks, also detailed in the memorandum below.

Now comes our potentially harmful role, as humans of spreading the insects.  Firewood.  And don’t we know…?, we have a great deal of stocked firewood around this season as a result of last October’s damaging storm, and other rainstorms this summer.  Many trees have been chainsawed by homeowners and piled up for sale.  Imagine, for a minute, if those trees were ash trees, and some had the beetle larvae under its bark?

If you attended any agricultural fairs recently, you may have seen pamphlets asking folks to not move firewood – especially from state to state or to campsites across state lines.  Moving firewood from state to state can be an very easy way of spreading invasive insects.  Well, you get the idea, you could be helping to spread a pest to another uncontaminated state.

This is why I requested the permission to release the full details of EAB’s detection, description, harmful potential to trees, and regulations outlined in this memorandum below.  It was emailed by Katherine Dugas and Rose Hiskes of the CT Agricultural Experiment Station to Master Gardeners.  And I appreciate their quick response of approval to share the memo, so I could share this news to gardeners and tree lovers.

Also, I’d like to note important credit to Dr. Rutledge and her team of “Wasp Watchers” — as they have been coined, for they are responsible for finding the EAB via their efforts.  And because of them, and many others, we and our CT trees have a head-start on action plans to prevent major distribution or destruction of ash trees.  As the press release indicates, “this pest attacks all species of ash trees.”

Well, I’ve tried to explain this new EAB pest news as best I could above, but should you want to read the complete formal details – here they are below.  Please read on and share the story of the EAB and firewood where and when you can.  Thank you – Cathy T

MEMORANDUM from CAES to Master Gardeners:

Hello Volunteers and Listserv Members,

EAB has arrived. It has been clear for a while that discovering EAB in Connecticut was only a matter of time, and that time was last week. The beetle arrived at CAES on Monday the 16th and was sent off for confirmation to various federal agencies (USDA in Michigan and then DC). Final confirmation was received on Wednesday the 18th. You can read the full CAES press release here:

http://www.ct.gov/caes/lib/caes/documents/publications/press_releases/2012/press_release_emerald_ash_borer_found_in_prospect_and_naugatuck_connecticut_july_2012.pdf

This find is special. Unlike other EAB finds which have been from purple traps, the first official CT EAB was found in the posession of a small native ground-nesting wasp, Cerceris fumipennis. Dr. Claire Rutledge of CAES has been conducting biosurveillance for EAB using this native wasp for the past few years with the help of US Forest Service funding and a network of hardworking volunteers, known collectively as the ‘Wasp Watchers.’

Biosurveilance with this wasp started in Canada with Dr. Steven Marshall, Dr. Bruce Gill, and Phillip Careless, M.S. The program has since been expanded into multiple networks of Wasp Watchers in many states and regions. For more information about the program, go to http://www.cerceris.info<http://www.cerceris.info/>.

The wasp has no official common name, but it has affectionately been nicknamed the “Smokey Winged Beetle Bandit” (this name has now been submitted to the Entomological Society of America’s committee on common names!). Female Cerceris dig nests in hard packed sandy soil in areas that are near a wooded area and in full sunshine (Baseball fields are ideal). The wasp will then stock her nest with the paralysed bodies of Buprestid beetles, a family of beetles of which EAB is a member. The idea is that if EAB is present in the area, then the Cerceris will eventually encounter them, capture them, and bring them back to the nests. The Wasp Watchers intercept the female wasps on their way back from hunting trips and collect the paralyzed beetles (the wasp is released). The beetles can then be identified.

The first EAB came from a Cerceris colony in Canfield Park, Prospect. So far Dr. Rutledge and her Wasp Watchers have found 34 more from the same area, as well as 3 more at Fusco Field (about 1 mile away). Subsequent examination of the purple traps in the Prospect area found that one of them also caught 3 EAB. A trap in adjacent Naugatuck has also yielded 3 additional beetles.

…so where do we go from here? From an outreach standpoint, our message remains unchanged: limiting the movement of firewood prevents the long-distance spread of EAB and other invasive species. From a regulatory standpoint, CAES and DEEP are now working to put the following measures into place:

A quarantine zone that would prohibit the movement of certain wood products out of New Haven County, the area in which EAB has now been detected

A ban on the importation of firewood into Connecticut through New York or Massachusetts – unless it is properly certified or has not come from an area of infestation

Additional detection traps in the Prospect area to monitor the presence of EAB and help assess their presence

A “delimiting” survey to help determine the area in which EAB is present and the extent of the infestation

Suspension of all timber contracts and firewood permits for state forest lands in New Haven County

A survey with federal agencies to determine how long the EAB infestation has been present in our state, information which will help determine best strategies for addressing it

For more information on these measures, see the joint CAES/DEEP press release here: http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=4173&q=508280

Needless to say, it is going to be a very interesting year for outreach! We’ll keep you posted with any new updates. Thank you all again for all your support and interest!

Katherine Dugas and Rose Hiskes
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
123 Huntington Street Box 1106
New Haven, CT 06504
Insect Inquiry Office: (203) 974-8600
http://www.ct.gov/caes

Update to this Post:

Last nite, as I browsed a horticulture magazine for professionals, I read insecticide trial protected ash trees in Chicagoland communities, with a survival rate of 95 percent.  Nearby trees died from the EAB/emerald ash borer heavy infestations.  The link to the magazine is not working properly this morning, so I did not share here yet.  Cathy T

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