Proposed Research Project in Killbear Provincial Park

Dr. Chris MacQuarrie, a research scientist with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is involved in a research project proposed for Killbear Provincial Park among other sites. The project involves the release of up to three species of biological control agents against the emerald ash borer. The biological control agents released as part of this project may become resident in the park and may expand their range outside the park boundaries; thus NRCan is seeking approval of OMECP (Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks) to include Killbear in the research project.

The emerald ash borer is a beetle that eats ash trees. The larval stage of the beetle eats the wood immediately beneath the bark of ash trees. This disrupts the flow of nutrients within the tree and eventually causes it to die. As the ash borer is not indigenous to North America, it has been successful because it lacks predators and parasites. In its home range (Asia) the beetle is prey for a number of other insects and it attacks ash trees that are able to defend themselves from feeding by the insect. The combination of these two factors helps keep the population of emerald ash borer small. When the insect was introduced to North America its predators were not introduced as well, and North American ash trees were not able to defend themselves from attack by the beetle. Without either of those features contributing to suppressing the insect it was able to increase its numbers and spread, resulting in significant tree mortality.

The biological control agents are parasitic wasps imported from Asia. They have been successful in the U.S. in controlling the ash borer. The wasps do not pose a threat to other species in N.A. and they pose no threat to humans.

If you have more questions about the project, contact