July 16, 2007

Wood-Boring Insect Detected in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A wood-boring insect that kills pine trees and also has turned up in New York, Pennsylvania and Ontario has been detected in Michigan, state and federal officials said Monday.

A single specimen of the Sirex Woodwasp was collected from a trap in Macomb County on July 6 and identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The insect is native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. It first was found in North America in Oswego, N.Y., in 2004 and since has been detected throughout central New York, northern Pennsylvania and southern Ontario.

"At this point, we don't know whether this is part of an established Michigan infestation," Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Mitch Irwin said in a statement.

Officials don't think the pest will have a major impact on the state's nursery, landscape and Christmas tree industries. Macomb County is north of Detroit.

The larvae of the Sirex Woodwasp sever trees' conductive tissues, interrupting the movement of water and nutrients. Adult females lay their eggs in two- and three-needled pine trees, including Austrian, jack, red and Scotch pines.

Officials said they've been monitoring Michigan pine trees since the Sirex was found in New York. There are more than 250 traps throughout Michigan.

The state already is grappling with the impact of the emerald ash border, a half-inch, green insect responsible for the death and decline of more than 25 million ash trees in the United States.

Scientists believe that the beetle came to North America from Asia about eight or 10 years ago in wooden packing material.

Ash borer infestations have been found in more than half of Michigan's 83 counties since the pest was discovered in Detroit in 2002.