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Are more ash borers waiting in the wings?

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
August 8, 2008

The discovery of a second infestation of emerald ash borers north of Milwaukee might make you wonder: How many more sites out there are waiting to be discovered?


Or, have state workers already discovered them, and are they just waiting for laboratory analysis before announcing them?


Mick Skwarok, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said Thursday that no other EAB samples have been sent to the lab in Michigan that confirmed the state’s first two cases.


On the other hand, a graduate student in Wisconsin is analyzing “vials and vials of samples,” and who knows what might show up in those samples? Skwarok said.


The samples come from the purple, sticky traps that were set all over the state, but mostly in the southern and southeastern parts of Wisconsin, including Rock and Walworth counties.


All the 6,300 traps are scheduled be collected by the end of next week, Skwarok said.


Workers comb each trap, looking for anything that looks like a small, elongated, hard-shelled, green beetle. They tweezer any such find into a vial, and the vials are sent in for analysis, Skwarok said.


If the grad student can’t rule out EAB, the sample is sent to Michigan.


The Michigan lab has the expertise to make a definitive call. The analysis involves cutting the bug open and examining its genitalia, Skwarok said.


It’s possible the first two EAB sites that were discovered aren’t the ground zero for EAB in Wisconsin, but they’re outlying infestations that sprang from the true ground zero, Skwarok said.


Or, it’s possible we’ll never know how the bugs got their first foothold here.



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