Maine Forest Service is hard at work releasing parasites to fight the Emerald Ash Borer

Colleen Teerling is an entomologist with the Maine Forest Service. She is hard at work releasing parasites to stop the spread of Emerald Ash Borer.

"So yeah Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive forest pest from Asia. It attacks only ash trees but it attacks every species of ash so in North America we have 16 species of ash and they're all susceptible to Emerald Ash Borer and it will kill an ash tree, EAB will kill an ash tree within 3 to 5 years. The larvae or the young stages, the immature stages bore under the bark of the tree and they kill the tree. They kind of cut off the water transport in the tree and the tree will die within 3 to 5 years."

Teerling says that Emerald Ash Borer was found last year in Edmundston, and then it migrated over to the Madawaska area, which infected trees there.

"I went over there just to see what was happening cause I knew if it was just a like 500 meters, 500 yards on the other side, on the edge of the river and that they had found it I knew it was probably over here as well and I stood at that site and I looked across the river to Frenchville and Madawaska, I thought "There's an Ash tree and there's an Ash tree and there's an Ash tree" and I knew for sure we had it here so then I came over here and we started looking and we peeled the bark off of a couple of trees down here and found that yeah, there was EAB here."

The parasites are non stinging wasps. The wasps feed on the borers by attacking their larvae under the bark of trees and parasitizing eggs on the surface of the bark. Though she has been releasing the wasps every week, Teerling says they won't be able to save the Ash trees that are in the area.

"The idea is that when these trees die, the next generation of trees that come up hopefully by then we will have enough parasites to keep the population of Emerald Ash Borer down. We don't know for sure that it's gonna work like that, we don't know how long it's gonna take in order for the population of parasites to build up enough to protect trees but it's looking hopeful."

Neil Thompson is a professor of forestry at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. He adds that he had been talking to Colleen about doing a tour with his class in the fall. When she told him about releasing the parasites, he knew he had to be part of it.

"It's a lot of fun! I teach students about this. It's great to be able to get involved with the actual practice. It's great to learn what the Forest Service is doing on a weekly basis here. So, I'm very glad to be apart of it."

Teerling adds that she will continue to release the wasps every week for the whole summer.