June 15, 2009
Monitoring the emerald ash borer can be as simple as observing wasps return to their nests with their beetle prey. It has been shown that by observing the ground-nesting wasp, Cerceris fumipennis, it is possible to quickly identify the presence of an EAB infestation.

A program has been developed involving volunteer wasp-watchers. A similar program in the U.S. has been found it a successful method to manage invasive pest species.

Current Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s research is to enhance the practicality of using wasps (C. fumipennis) to monitor for EAB by testing mobile C. fumipennis nests. Wasps can then be moved into areas of expected infestation where there are no known wasp colonies. During these trials the mobile wasp nests will be compared to the standard passive EAB monitoring tools, trap-trees and prism-traps.

While the wasps have proven themselves unique in their ability to find EAB infestations, most of the province’s natural colonies remain undiscovered. During 2006-2008 field seasons in Ontario, the focus was on observing wasp behaviour and development of mobile colonies.  Of the 19 known C. fumipennis colonies in Ontario, only three are closely monitored: Bronte Creek Provincial Park, Woodland Trails Scout Camp in Stouffville and Broadway Park in Windsor.  

 Work in New England has provided a model for Ontario. Referred to as wasp watchers, the participants both search and monitor colonies. In Ontario volunteers would be informed and trained to help in their local areas. Volunteers count the number of active nests, taking a collection of prey, and watching out for EAB.  

To find out more contact, Wasp-watchers CFIA Cerceris project, the website address is www.cerceris.info.