Global Trade Often Source Of Harmful Bugs

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Emerald Ash Borer is spreading through Ohio and 14 other states(Photo: Ohio Department of Natural Resources)
Emerald Ash Borer is spreading through Ohio and 14 other states(Photo: Ohio Department of Natural Resources)

Economists often tout International trade as beneficial for all parties involved. But, a new University of California study indicates some side effects of global trade can have both an environmental and economic downside. Case in point: The Emerald Ash Borer.

“Its the most devastating forest insect pest to ever be introduced to North America.”

Ohio State University entomologist Dan Herms says the millions of Ash trees in Ohio and 14 other states are doomed. Doomed by the introduction, about a decade ago, of the Emerald Ash Borer. Federal researchers say best evidence indicates the insect hitched a ride from Asia to a Great Lakes port in Michigan on a cargo ship. A study published by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis gives some early cost figures. Researcher Juliann Aukema is lead author of the study.

“And when we combine local government expenditures and household expenditures, that’s treatment, tree removal, replacement expenditures for dead and dying trees. We get 1.2 billion dollars per year just for Emerald Ash Borer.” ”

Aukema calls the Emerald Ash Borer a “poster pest” since it will wreak the most havoc of any non-native pest.In Ohio, the cost of combating the Emerald Ash Borer is estimated at 300 million dollars a year.

The number of non-native wood-boring insects in North America has spiked since the 1980s. Prior to the 80′s studies show about 10 percent of non-native insects brought to the U-S were wood-borers. But between 1980 and 2006, more than half of the insects new to North America are wood-boring insects.

Federal inspectors examine some of the packaging that enters the U-S. But, Jonathan Lelito of the Department of Agriculture says the volume of international trade often means bugs and foreign organisms often get past checkpoints.

“You know airports and ports intercept probably millions of organisms every year and those are just the ones we find. So this trade back and forth, you know there’s a lot of regulations in place but they could be strengthened and that’s how a lot of these insects get in. Asian long-horned beetle for example that we have here now in Bethel, Ohio that’s going to be another big one, going to be another big problem.” Says Lelito

The Asian long-horned beetle was detected earlier this year in Clermont County in Southwest Ohio. It also is a non-native wood boring insect that attacks several species of trees other than Ash. A quarantine has been imposed in Clermont county in a bid to control the insect.

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