Small Insect Helps Giant Ash Trees

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s the size of gnat but it will help some giant ash trees. On Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture released a tiny, sting less wasp that could help save millions of trees in the Twin Cities.

Monica Chandler is Biocontrol Coordinator with MDA. The MDA released the wasps in Langford Park St. Paul where emerald ash borers (EAB) were found.

“(EAB) It’s a beetle and in the larval stage it does the damage,” said Chandler. “It tunnels underneath the ash bark and the tunneling disrupts the flow on nutrients and water for the ash tree and eventually it kills the tree.”

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Edgar Linares Reports

They will release the wasps in four other locations including Tower Hill Park in St. Paul and two sites along East River Parkway. MDA will also release the bug along West River Parkway in Minneapolis. The main infestation was found in St. Paul in 2009.

“Emerald ash borer is native to Asia and it doesn’t have a lot of natural enemies here to keep its numbers in check,” said Chandler.

The MDA paired the invasive pest with a sting-less wasp to restrict EAB before it kills millions of ash trees. They released two kids of natural pest control.

“Today it’s going to be a total of about 2,000 of one species called Tetrastichus and 200 of another species called Spathius,” said Mark Abrahamson, EAB Project Manger.

Last fall, the MDA introduced the same species of wasp in Houston County to control EAB infestation. EAB has killed millions of ash trees in 15 states.

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