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Wasp watchers and biosurveillance

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Wasp watchers and biosurveillance

Wasp Watcher, biosurveillance.  Sounds undercovery and like it has nothing to do with gardening.  Ah, but it does.  Wasp Watchers is a program started new this year by the University of Minnesota extension to go in search of Emerald Ash Borer.   Click on that link for a wealth of information.

With the help of a harmless, native wasp, Cerceris fumipennis , volunteers can conduct biosurveillance.   It’s also known as Winged beetle bandit wasp!

Winged beetle bandit wasp

Winged beetle bandit wasp

Biosurveillance uses one species to help detect the presence of another species.   The smoky winged beetle bandit, is a native, solitary, ground-nesting wasp that specifically hunts beetles like EAB, which has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in over 20 states.  If it hasn’t already, it’s coming to an Ash Tree near you.

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

The females forage for beetles in trees and bring them back to underground nests as food for their offspring.  The Wasp Watcher process is simple: volunteers search for beetle bandit nesting sites and monitor the type of prey the wasp are capturing. If it’s EAB, then they know to monitor the Ash Trees.  Conveniently, the wasps prefer sandy, compact soil like you would find in the infield edges of baseball or softball fields.  Scientists are using the smoky winged beetle bandits much like agriculture uses bees.  They’re importing them as workers.

winged beetle bandit nesting sites

winged beetle bandit nesting sites

 

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