Schuyler youth prepare for borer
SCHUYLER COUNTY—Youth in Schuyler County are taking a preemptive approach to dealing with the invasive beetle, the Emerald Ash Borer.
A group of 15 4-H members is participating in a wasp watcher project through Schuyler County Cornell Cooperative Extension. Organizer Roger Ort explained Schuyler is one of 10 counties to be selected to participate. He said the youth are going out into the community to identify ash trees, which are targeted by the borer, and to hopefully find wasp nests belonging to a natural predator of the borer.
The Emerald Ash Borer is a small, green beetle that is native to China and eastern Asia. According to the Cooperative Extension, the EAB kills ash trees.
While there have been no confirmed cases of the beetle in Schuyler County, it was found last year in the town of Bath, Steuben County. Borers are spread the fastest by the transportation of firewood. However, the insects have an enemy in a wasp, called cerceris fumipennis.
Ort said through the wasp watcher program, the 4-Hers look for this wasp’s nest, which is found in the ground of sandy areas. He explained if the borer is in Schuyler County, this wasp would kill the beetle and bring it back to her nest.
A group of nine youth searched part of Clute Park last Thursday. Ort explained that was the first day the youth went out looking for the wasp, which he added does not sting. He said they think they found a nest at the volleyball pits. The next step is to monitor it once it’s verified.
Ort said a small card will be tacked to the ground over the entrance. There will be a hole in the card over the nest’s entrance. Ort explained the wasp will be able to fit through, but not any insects she brings back as food. He added the card is left there for two hours. Ort said that is how they will monitor for the ash borer; if the insect is in the area and the wasp catches it, the 4-Hers will find the beetle on the card. The program suggests doing that three times over the summer on sunny days for each nest.
However, Ort explained the wasp is only active in July and August before going dormant. He said after finishing searching Clute Park, the youth volunteers will decide the next place in Schuyler to search. The wasp might be in other areas with sandy ground like on baseball diamonds, fire pits, or parking lots.
Ort said once August is over and the wasp is dormant, the program is on hiatus as well. He explained that next year the youth will start again, but this time will know where to find the wasp nests.
He added they also tagged three ash trees in Clute Park with a card explaining those trees are at risk of being killed by borers. Ort said the program is educational in nature for the volunteers, who get community service. He explained they discuss the costs associated with the borer killing ash trees.