We don’t claim to be Entomolopolowagamolo … bug experts, but bringing predator wasps from China to kill beetles in Colorado sounds like the worst idea since Dr. Strangelove used a nuclear bomb to cure polio.
The deployment of thousands of these stingless, parasitic wasps on the University of Colorado campus to battle the emerald ash borer is part of an experiment by the USDA.
The ash borer has been blamed for the death of tens of millions of ash trees in the United States. It was confirmed in Boulder in September 2013 and there are fears it could spread across the state, since it can fly up to a half-mile to infest new trees.
“We’re hoping that by releasing biocontrols like these, we can slow the spread and better manage the impacts of emerald ash borer in Colorado,” said John Kaltenbach, biological control specialist for the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
We’re skeptical of biocontrol. It was tried in Hawaii where the mongoose was introduced to control the rat population. However, the mongoose preferred to eat birds and 150 years later rats and mongoose are still running amok on the islands.
The Asian lady beetle was introduced into the U.S. in 1988 to kill aphids, it has since displaced our native ladybug and the damn things bite.
Remember Kudzu? That came from China to control erosion.
Insecticides are available to kill the borer and are used in other states suffering from the infestation, like Michigan. But this is Boulder, and chemicals are not welcome. The kind that kills bugs, anyway.
The rest of Colorado apparently doesn’t get a say in the matter, so we’ve no choice but to welcome our new neighbor.
With any luck, the wasp will wipe out the emerald ash borer and then we can have it declared an endangered species. Item number two on that agenda, evacuate humans from the Boulder campus and list it as the bug’s native habitat.