Researchers use Chinese wasps to fight emerald ash borers

Researchers use Chinese wasps to fight emerald ash borers

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The emerald ash borer was confirmed in the Smokies earlier this year. The emerald ash borer was confirmed in the Smokies earlier this year.
Wiggins and other researchers started bringing in the wasps earlier this summer. Wiggins and other researchers started bringing in the wasps earlier this summer.
These wasps aren't the large kind - they're only about the size of an ant when they reach maturity. These wasps aren't the large kind - they're only about the size of an ant when they reach maturity.

By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

FRIENDSVILLE (WATE) - Researchers from the University of Tennessee are working to reduce the number of emerald ash borers that are killing ash trees in East Tennessee and across the country.

The emerald ash borer has been wreaking havoc on ash trees, slowly killing the trees from within. It was confirmed in the Smokies earlier this year.

Now researchers hope bringing in wasps that are native to the same region in China will help save some trees and slow the spread.

"By using natural enemies that have co-adapted over time in its native range and reintroducing it here, we're hoping to re-establish that predator-prey relationship." said UT Researcher Greg Wiggins.

These wasps aren't the large kind - they're only about the size of an ant when they reach maturity.

"These are small, but the emerald ash borers aren't very large," said Wiggins. "It's really not the size of the wasp that causes the damages, but it's the fact that they can lay multiple eggs on a host."

When the wasp lays her eggs and stings the ash borer, the borer is no longer active and can't do any more damage to the tree.

"They lay their eggs on a host, in this case an emerald ash borer, and the larvae of the parasitoids develop inside the larvae of the emerald ash borer. And in the process of feeding on it and developing, they kill the emerald ash borer," he said.

Researchers started bringing in the wasps earlier this summer. They haven't found any of the new wasps in samples they've taken, but did find a few other, native wasps in tree samples.

"We're still evaluating these to see how well they'll work in a Southern climate," Wiggins said.

The wasps were tested before they were released to see if they would have an adverse effect on the environment.

They were shown to be a low risk for feeding on anything other than the emerald ash borer.

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