- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - Colorado is deploying tiny predator wasps imported from China as part of a state experiment aimed at annihilating invasive beetles threatening one in six metro Denver trees.

The wasps target the eggs of emerald ash borer beetles, which are also from Asia. The beetles have killed more than 50 million trees in 25 states.

The wasps can pierce beetle eggs and lay their own eggs inside that devour the beetle eggs.

“This is an experiment. We hope it is enough and that the wasps will establish themselves. The idea is they will reproduce on their own,” said John Kaltenbach, biological control specialist for the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Success depends on keeping the wasps strong enough to make it through winter.

Full-scale bug-on-bug battling for biological control may take a few years, the Denver Post reported (https://tinyurl.com/olpltbr ).

Foresters in Boulder first detected wood-boring ash beetles here in 2013. They believe the beetles migrated from Asia to Michigan in wooden packaging material and killed 30 million ash trees in Michigan, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

USDA scientists went to China looking for the beetle’s natural enemies. Working with Chinese foresters, they identified three wasps in China and, during the past decade, imported and raised them at a federal lab near Detroit.

In Colorado, state and local authorities tried to kill the borers by injecting insecticides into infected tree trunks. They cut down infected trees. Last year, they introduced a larger imported wasp, but more beetles are hatching this spring.

“If we don’t try anything, the emerald ash borer will continue to spread,” Kaltenbach said. “We’re definitely moving more pests around the world. It’s going to be a continual battle,” he said.

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Information from: The Denver Post, https://www.denverpost.com

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