This story is featured in the January 2012 Issue of the Earth Preservers Newsletter. Download it here.
It’s a heavyweight prize fight you won’t hear about on ESPN.
The combatants are a wasp and a beetle. Scientists desperately hope the wasp knocks out the beetle before it does any more damage to the environment. The beetle is the emerald boreal beetle. It has killed millions of ash trees in the Eastern and Midwestern US. Government scientists call the destruction the worst tree disaster in America since the outbreak of Dutch elm disease decades ago.
The wasp is a species native to China that kills the beetle’s eggs and larvae. Thousands and thousands of these stingless wasps have been released. Scientists are trying to maintain a delicate balance. On the one hand, they need to stop the beetle. On the other, they don’t want to use chemical pesticides that might endanger the environment and people’s health.
With 120 million ash trees at risk just in Indiana, the stakes couldn’t be higher.