'Alien' Wasp Kills Whole Forests

It's a tidy system in which the adult wasps pick up the nematodes and distribute them along with their larvae, forming sort of a search and destroy network.

"In the Southern Hemisphere it has been a silver bullet," Hoebeke says. "It has kept the wasp population under control."

That's a dramatic change from just a few years ago, when the wasp was destroying trees by the thousands.

But would the same strategy work here? Experts think it's promising, but the situation here is much more complex than it was to the south. Our forests are more diversified, as well as our wasp population, and no one wants to wipe out all wasps. After all, they eat many other harmful insects, and they provide food for a wide range of animals.

There's always the concern that introducing a "bio-control agent," even a tiny nematode, could backfire. But at this point that's about the only thing that looks promising.

Hopefully, Hoebeke says, it's not already too late. The forests in this country are already under attack by beetles, fungus and all sorts of burrowing animals. In Alaska, for example, it is possible to drive for miles through dead spruce trees, killed by beetles that move across the landscape like an invisible plague.

"We didn't need another invader," says Hoebeke.

But Sirex noctilio Fabricicus is here, none the less.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: The first explosion knocked down a runner at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon.
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
PHOTO: The scene near the finish line of the Boston Marathon is seen in this April 16, 2013 file photo. Inset, suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are seen. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with police and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured.
Elise Amendola/AP Photo; Inset: Lowell Sun, FBI/AP Photo
PHOTO: Pulaski Township Police Sgt. Chad Adam seen here in this undated Facebook photo, went undercover as an Amish woman.
Pulaski Township Police Department/Facebook