This week the first batch of ‘Made in Canada’ parasitic wasps will emerge in the fight against the emerald ash borer.
Researchers at the Great Lakes Forestry Centre in Sault Ste. Marie have reared 12,000 of the tiny wasps, which go by the name Tetrastichus.
These wasps will join other parasitic wasps — both American and Chinese — released in 2016 to combat the borer.
Wasps target borer grubs hiding under bark
The Tetrastichus inserts its eggs through the bark and onto the ash borer grub feeding underneath.
Dr. Krista Ryall of Natural Resources Canada hopes the presence of these new wasps can help stem the spread of the borer, which so far has killed millions of ash trees in Canada and the United States.
“What we’re hoping is that, over the long term … it could be decades … that as you have new ash regenerating, hopefully you’ll have these wasps present and keep the emerald ash borer at a lower level,” Ryall said.
The wasps will be spread across six new release sites in Ontario and Quebec, she said.
But the presence of this parasitic army shouldn’t alarm anyone.
“They don’t attack humans,” Ryall said. “They don’t bite or sting or anything like that. They’re not like wasps that most people would think of.”
“And this one in particular is very specific. It only likes to eat emerald ash borer. So really, that’s its only host that it’s out there looking for.”