Ash Borers Threaten VA's Ash Trees, Asian Wasps Released in Halifax Co. May Be The Solution

Halifax Co., VA - An invasive insect is threatening Virginia's entire ash tree population at a rapid rate. In the last couple of years, the Emerald Ash Borer has already killed many trees across the state - leading to a federal quarantine on Virginia's ash timber.

Now, researchers have released Asian Wasps into Halifax County that may nip the problem in the bud.

Senior Extension Agent Jason Fisher says Emerald Ash Borers are native to Asia - possibly brought to the USA in chopped firewood.The adult borers destroy the tree's leaves, but the larvae do the worst harm."The larvae hatch out and bore into the tree and then they girdle the tree over a period of three to five years, " Fisher said.Last year, researchers from Virginia Tech came to Halifax County to prepare for the first trial run of Asian Wasps as biological control. Fisher says a county in Ohio had great success with that solution when they too developed an ash borer problem."It's a widely accepted method and at this point it is our only resort, " Fisher said.For those who don't like the idea of more wasps in the air - the tiny mosquito-like creatures aren't what you think.

But as the borer's natural predator - they provide a direct solution that mass pesticide spraying cannot."These aren't stinging wasps. They parasitize and lay eggs onto the larvelarvaekill the larvae, " Fisher said.He just hopes it's not too late for Virginia's 7 million ash trees to survive."It's just being good stewards of our resources, and if we're losing that because of an invasive insect, we need to take action, " Fisher said.

Fisher says if you are a homeowner with a few ash trees you would like to save, a specific pesticide may be your answer. Your local extension agent can point you in the right direction.