- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 20, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Sioux Falls will soon unleash a new opponent in the fight against an invasive insect species that’s expected to destroy more than 80,000 trees in the area over the next decade.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture plans to release wasps in Sioux Falls to combat the spread of the emerald ash borer, the Argus Leader reported. The agency confirmed in May that northern Sioux Falls has the state’s first infestation of the beetles.

Wasps prey on borers by laying eggs inside the destructive tree pests, which later die when the eggs are hatched, said John Ball, an entomologist and forester with the state’s agriculture agency.

“It’s really an unpleasant way to die, but let’s just say it’s our revenge,” he said.

The U.S. Forest Service will provide the parasitoid wasps, which don’t pose any threat to humans, according to Ball.

“If someone is stung by a wasp, it’s not one of these,” Ball said. “They may only have a bug brain, but they can tell the difference between a human being and a larvae.”

State Agriculture Secretary Mike Jaspers implemented an emergency plant pest quarantine last month to prevent the spread of emerald ash borer. The quarantine restricts movement of ash materials in all of Minnehaha County and parts of Lincoln County and Turner County, unless authorized by the state Agriculture Department. It also prevents the movement of firewood from any hardwood species within the quarantine zone.

The invasive insect has killed tens of millions of ash trees in at least 32 states.


Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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