CORNELL (US)—The emerald ash borer has the potential to devastate ash trees in the Northeast and is already taking a toll in western New York  just over a year since its arrival in the state.

“I knew it would be a matter of time until we would find the EAB at other sites in New York,” says John Vandenberg, adjunct professor of entomology at Cornell University.

“What we discovered last year were some rather heavily infested ash trees.”

New detections have been discovered early enough to prevent disastrous infestations.

While the bright green beetles cause no direct harm to humans, they can kill a North American ash tree in two to three years, pose a threat to the Northeast’s hardwood forests, and are a major potential liability to communities, says Mark Whitmore, a Cornell forest entomologist, because removing dead or infested trees costs $2,000 to $3,000 per tree.

“Every penny we spend now will be paid back many times over in cost saving,” he says.

To keep the EAB from spreading, scientists are strategically killing and removing infested ash trees to decrease the EAB population.

Researchers hope to next identify potential high-risk areas and perhaps import several natural predator species of Chinese parasitic wasps if research proves them effective, Vandenberg says.

“Meanwhile, we would have time to look for additional natural enemies, develop ash resistance, or find other measures.”

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