Emerald Ash Borer Beetle Origins

Considered a modern day mystery, the arrival of the emerald ash borer beetles on North American soil continues to elude all. Prior to June of 2002, the emerald ash borer beetle enjoyed a rather uneventful and balanced existence in its natural habitat located throughout various areas of the Asian continent. The typically innocuous beetle quickly became the center of attention due to its mere appearance translating into widespread death for millions of ash trees growing in America and Canada.

Efforts to pinpoint how the emerald ash borer beetles arrived on North American soil continues to baffle officials, however, based on the now certain evidence and details of the beetles life cycle, government officials and researchers both concur the appearance of the emerald ash borer beetles were likely made possible as undetected stowaways on wood brought by ship or airplane sometime in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s from Asia. The first observable area to experience the wrath of the emerald ash borer beetle occurred in Detroit, Michigan. Devastation quickly fanned out to outlying areas, and the destruction of ash trees continues to this very day.

While man searches for a means to control the beetle whose mere existence spells out disaster for nearly all types of ash trees on the North American continent, officials have only found one method to date that may be used to prevent the introduction of this deadly beetle into other unsuspecting geographical areas where ash trees grow abundantly. State and federal officials have introduced quarantines in areas where the emerald ash borer beetle has been detected. Thus far, officials have determined burning the affected ash trees tends to be the only effective means to deal with this crisis. Additionally, they rely on citizens to recognize and obey quarantines and keep any and all firewood in quarantined areas.

In a race against time, researchers and scientists are doing everything within their powers to create or replicate a biological control for the emerald ash borer beetle before it wipes out millions more ash trees and costs states and governmental agencies millions of dollars due to the potential devastation the beetle currently poses. While most studies research effective biological controls, Jim Smith currently overseas research at Michigan State University designed to identify exactly where the American emerald ash beetles came from based on DNA research compared with various specimens in Asia. Perhaps the discovery of the ancestral emerald ash borer beetle may provide the answer for organic control. Until a control is found, however, man’s best defense includes awareness of the deadly threat this insect poses and adherence to the quarantines presently in place.