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Posted on: June 4, 2021

Charlottesville and USDA Partner on Biological Treatment for Emerald Ash Borer

Photo of a green bug on a tree

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 4, 2021

The five-year USDA study program will monitor the effectiveness of protecting ash trees at no cost to the City of Charlottesville.


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - Emerald ash borer (EAB), or Agrilus planipennis is an invasive insect from Asia that damages and kills infected ash trees in in 2-3 years.  This pest is present in Charlottesville and the surrounding areas.  

These metallic green insects emerge May-August in our region.  Once the adults breed in May-August, the eggs are then laid on the bark and once the insects hatch, they burrow under the bark.  As the larvae feed they create serpentine galleries that disrupt the flow of food and kill the tree.

Beginning in 2016, the Charlottesville Parks & Recreation Department handpicked 32 of the City’s best specimen ash trees to treat preventatively for emerald ash borer and be retained.  Several limiting factors prevent all ash trees from being incorporated into the treatment program.

In May 2021, the USDA approached the City proposing the release of a biological control to help kill emerald ash borer.  The USDA will provide parasitoid wasps (Oobius agrili) that lay eggs in the eggs of emerald ash borer thus killing emerald ash borer and slow the spread of this damaging insect.  The proposed location that meets the requirements for this USDA program is the Ragged Mountain Natural Area.  The five-year USDA study program will monitor the effectiveness of protecting specimen ash trees at no cost to the City of Charlottesville.  The wasps do not sting and are all female.  They only produce clones of themselves.  Release of these Oobius spp. have been performed in other parts of Virginia and 28 other states and has been evaluated as safe.  

On June 1, 2021, the Charlottesville Tree Commission endorsed this endeavor.  City staff has evaluated this proposition and has found that the benefits outweigh the risks involved and sees this as an additional innovative and proactive way to help combat emerald ash borer within our region.

Media Contact
Mike Ronayne
Urban Forester
City of Charlottesville
434-970-3587
ronaynem@charlottesville.gov

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