posted on May, 14 2005 @ 09:21 AM
Despite dozens of interceptions at U.S. ports, a public enemy has infiltrated the nation's borders. Taken captive in Fulton County, N.Y., and
identified by a Cornell University expert, the adult female alien is the only one of its kind ever discovered in the eastern United States. The
discovery of a single specimen of Sirex noctilio Fabricius, an Old World woodwasp, raises red flags across the nation because the invasive insect
species has devastated up to 80 percent of pine trees in areas of New Zealand, Australia, South America and South Africa. If established in the United
States, it would threaten pines coast-to-coast, particularly in the pine-dense states in the Southeast. One target would be loblolly pines in Georgia.
The discovery of a pernicious wasp in New York — the first found in the wild in the United States — has scientists fearing a scourge that has
devastated pine forests elsewhere.
Cornell University entomologist E. Richard Hoebeke found the Old World woodwasp on Sept. 7 in Fulton County, northwest of Albany, while sifting for
bark beetles in screening traps. He identified the adult female on Feb. 19.
The invasive Sirex noctilio Fabricius has ruined up to 80 percent of the pines in parts of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America,
Hoebeke said. If established here, it would threaten pines from coast to coast, with Georgia's loblolly pines a likely target.
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If an infestation is uncovered, then it's bug versus bug. Scientists would likely release a nematode that is a known enemy of the woodwasp.
Because the bug likes stressed wood, scientists will also examine facilities such as mills that make packaging materials out of wood that is unfit for
uses like construction. They'll also use aerial photography to identify stands of pine that look unhealthy.
The potential damage from this exotic woodwasp could be monumental.