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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

When our native trees start to succumb to the synergistic scourge of global warming, chemical pollution and imported pests/ disease, one has to be far-sighted and empathetic enough to realize that all of animal life including Man becomes threatened with existence....................Our Chestnuts, Elms, Oaks, Maples, Dogwoods, Hemlocks, Pines, Ash and a myriad of other forest trees are "dying in plain sight" in front of our eyes through our insistence on "good living through the use of chemistry" and sloppy safeguarding of what comes in and out of our Country on airplanes and container ships..................When alien parasites, insects and pathogens enter North American ecosystems,,,,,,,,,,,,,,When so-called "exhale" by-products of industry"(Co2, methane, pesticides, etc, etc) enter our North American ecosystems,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,THE RESULT IS DEATH AND DESTRUCTION--SOMETIMES QUICKLY, SOMETIMES SLOWLY, BUT ALWAYS INEVITABLY.....Such is the case as the Asian Emerald Ash Borer bears down on our iconic Ash trees, aka the "baseball bat tree"..................Yes we are attempting to fight this "DESTROYER" through the use of biological control agents such as parasitic wasps and native birds,,,,,,,,,,,,,,but what will be the ultimate impact to all the citizens of our woodlands where the Ash tree is an integral member?................Just how many tree genocides can our forests absorb before our animal, bird and insect life blinks out for good?

Native Species Step Up

 to Fight Ash Parasite

Scientists Make Headway in

 Curbing Scourge With Some 

Woodpeckers, Wasps

Caroline Porter;

When the emerald ash borer showed

 up in the U.S. about a decade ago, 

the native ecosystem didn't put up

 much of a fight against the Asian

 beetle—and the invader quickly

 munched its way through ash trees

 from Minnesota to New Hampshire, 

causing destruction that will cost 

billions of dollars to repair.

Now, however, scientists have found
 three reliable native allies in their fight 
against the scourge: Certain woodpeckers,
 nuthatches and parasitic wasps have
 developed a taste for the beetles. In
 conjunction with natural predators 
imported from the borers' original home 
in China and chemical treatments, the
 native species are helping curtail the
 pest after years of destruction.

The progress comes as a welcome
development for what is considered
 to be one of the most destructive forest
 pests in the U.S. in recent years. Over 
the past 10 years or so, the emerald ash 
borer has infested millions of trees in 21 
states, by scientists' reckoning. Various 
Forest Service estimates peg the potential 
cost at between $7 billion and at least $25 
billion for state and local governments
and landowners to take down or replace
 dead and dying ash trees over 25 years.
For just those trees in urban areas, cities 
are looking at the death of about 17 million
 trees by 2019 with a replacement cost of
 $11 billion by 2019, according to Robert 
Venette, a research biologist with the Forest
 Service. In natural areas and cities, the
 beetle has killed tens of millions of trees.
 In Michigan, the current estimate is well
 over 50 million.

Fighting Battles in the Forest

Sean Proctor/The Wall Street Journal
The emerald ash borer is an invasive species most likely from China that has left a trail of dead trees across parts of the Midwest and the Northeast U.S. in its wake.

Ash trees are prized for their timber, which is used to make furniture and baseball bats, and are known as shade and ornamental landscape trees that typically grow to about 60 to 80 feet. They live in most of the continental U.S., extending north into Canada and south into Mexico.

First detected near Detroit in
 2002, the emerald ash borer—
a half-inch-long bug with a green
 metallic sheen on its wings and 
a reddish stomach—is believed
 to have hitched a ride in packing 
materials from China. While
 researchers hustled to gain control
 over the invasive beetle, which 
burrows under trees' bark and 
cuts off their nutrient supply, 
for years they showed little 
success. They shipped Chinese
 wasps to the U.S. to prey on the
 beetle, deployed numerous traps
 and mounted a national awareness
 campaign for homeowners to adopt
 and treat trees in their neighborhoods.

Yet the ash borer thrived in its new
 home amid a dearth of predators native
 to the U.S."We found very few natural
 insects attacking the emerald ash borer 
in Michigan," said Leah Bauer, an insect
 researcher with the U.S. Forest Service,
 part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
 "In China, there are three insect species
 that eat the beetle. It is their biological 

But now the native parasitic wasps, 
red-bellied woodpeckers and white-
breasted nuthatches are giving scientists
 new hope that they can at least slow the
 destruction of ash trees with the help of 
chemical treatments and the Chinese wasps
 that were imported and are now being
 reared in the U.S. The USDA "is working 
very hard to put these little enemies [the 
Chinese wasps] out there to become 
established and help control the emerald
 ash borer," said Ms. Bauer.

Native parasitic wasps have discovered
 that the beetles make excellent hosts for 
their eggs. After the eggs hatch, the larvae
 snack on the ash borers. "They were like,
 'Hey, wow, look at this new giant buffet 
for us.' Now folks looking at the emerald 
ash borer are taking notice," said Therese 
Poland, who studies insects with the U.S.
Forest Service in East Lansing, Mich.

"Parasitic wasps may be most important
 in combination with woodpeckers as natural
 enemies become more relevant to fighting 
the bugs," said Deb McCullough, a professor 
of forest insects at Michigan State University.
 "They play a really valuable role."
Red-bellied woodpeckers, which feast on the 
ash borers' larvae, are experiencing a 
population boom due to the new food supply,
 according to a report this month by the U.S. 
Forest Service and Cornell University. 
White-breasted nuthatches are also 
experiencing a population increase, 
according to the report.
The woodpeckers also lead scientists to ash
 infestations, which can be otherwise difficult
 to spot. That is also helping the fight against 
the borer.

On a recent day, Ms. Bauer used woodpecker 
markings on ash trees to set up traps intended
 to monitor the number of specially raised 
Asian wasps in a forest south of Lansing
."They have a way of finding these trees
 and really do a number on them. They 
just pepper the bark."

Still, many scientists agree that the emerald
 ash borer maintains the upper hand. "We
 have just seen the tip of the iceberg," said 
Andrew Liebhold, an insect researcher with
 the Forest Service and co-author of the
 report. "In Detroit, there are a lot of dead
 trees everywhere. We're going to see that
 in every Eastern city in the next 20 to 30 
years. It's kind of a horrific thing."

For homeowner Kate Simons in Cicero,
 N.Y., an influx of woodpeckers seemed 
to indicate the arrival of the invasive beetle
 in her area. While she's not bothered by 
the woodpeckers' noise, she is concerned
 about the financial burden of tree treatment
 for the borers, which is recommended in 
areas prone to infestation.

She plans to cut down the ash tree in her 
backyard that would otherwise cost about
 $300 to treat every year or two. "It's not
 that I don't like trees," said the 41-year-
old paralegal. "I can't justify the cost."

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