What Is the History of the Emerald Ash Borer?


Quick Answer

The emerald ash borer, also known as agrilus planipennis, was first discovered by Frenchman and naturalist Armand David in the 1860s as he travelled through imperial China. After finding the green jewel beetle and recognizing that it hadn't been previously discovered, David sent a specimen back to his friend Leon Fairmaire in France. Fairmaire, an entomologist, wrote a description and analysis on the beetle that was published in a 1888 edition of the Revue d'Entomologie.

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Full Answer

The emerald ash borer is native to Asia, specifically eastern Russia, China, Japan and Korea. However, the species has migrated over the years. In North America, the exotic beetle was initially discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. As of 2015, Michigan remains the primary area where the beetle can be found. However, populations spread north to the upper peninsula of Michigan, south to Louisiana, west to Colorado and east to Massachusetts.

The EAB, as the species is commonly referred to, feeds on ash trees. It is not considered to be destructive to the environment in East Asia because densities of the bug are relatively low. However, in North America the EAB is considered a significant pest because of its effect on the continent's ash trees. The beetles infest trees and lay eggs. Larval feeding disrupts the flow of nutrients and water to the trees, eventually resulting in the trees' deaths.

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