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What’s killing the green menace: mortality factors affecting the emerald ash borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) in North America?

  • D. Barry Lyons (a1)

Emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), is an Asian species that was introduced into North America in the mid-1990s. The beetle has the potential to devastate populations of Fraxinus Linnaeus (Oleaceae) species. Several species of Hymenoptera parasitoids have made the transition from North American Agrilus Curtis hosts to A. planipennis, and some (e.g., Atanycolus Förster (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) species) have caused substantial mortality. Invertebrate predators of A. planipennis have been poorly investigated. Predation by woodpeckers (Aves: Picidae) has had the greatest impact on A. planipennis populations. Native entomopathogens have also been observed in populations of A. planipennis and are being explored as potential biological control agents. Agrilus planipennis is a freeze-intolerant species and as such perishes when its tissues freeze. However, the beetle can achieve a mean supercooling point of −30 °C by the production of cryoprotectants, especially glycerol. This low supercooling point in combination with temperatures higher than ambient in its overwintering microhabitat means that it can survive in most of its invaded range. As its distribution expands northward its cold hardiness may be challenged. North American species of Fraxinus possess some resistance to A. planipennis via defensive mechanisms, but these are quickly overcome by expanding larval populations. Intraspecific competition (via cannibalism and starvation) impacts larval survival.

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