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Wasp Watchers Wanted!

Cerceris wasp and EABWant to help protect Massachusetts from the invasive emerald ash borer? Volunteer teams from Central and Eastern Massachusetts are needed to track the beetles, using a wasp that is an expert at finding them. Cerceris fumipennis, a native wasp species, is an expert at catching Agrilus beetles, including the Agrilus of greatest concern to us in Massachusetts: the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis, “EAB”).

EAB has not yet been found in Massachusetts, but was discovered in New York last summer, just 25 miles away from our western border. Cerceris wasps are a valuable tool in our efforts to find EAB as early as possible. The wasps are easy to hunt for because they build their nests in sandy soil, in areas like baseball fields, parking lots, campsites and roadsides. And these wasps do not sting, even when handled.

The Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources is looking to train small teams or volunteer leaders from larger organizations to help locate new Cerceris colonies. For groups able to commit more time, volunteers are also needed to adopt sites with established colonies, in order to monitor the wasp nests and collect beetles. A training session is coming up in early July. For more information, contact Jennifer Forman Orth at jennifer.forman-orth@state.ma.us or 617-626-1735.

To learn more about using wasps to track emerald ash borer, visit cerceris.info.

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