The dietary habits of the emerald ash borer beetle are complicated | Science News

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The dietary habits of the emerald ash borer beetle are complicated

The insect's larvae doom trees by chewing tunnels under the bark

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11:00am, November 21, 2017
emerald ash borer

HIDDEN TASTES  The emerald ash borer has been attacking ash trees in North America for more than 20 years, but it’s recently become clear that’s not all it does.

DENVER — An invasive beetle has unexpected — and potentially troublesome — tastes in trees. Now two new studies are clarifying the insects’ dining habits, researchers reported at the annual Entomological Society of America meeting.

Metallic-green Asian beetles called emerald ash borers (Agrilus planipennis) have devastated wide swaths of forest in North America. For years, researchers believed that only various kinds of ash trees were at risk. But in 2014, researchers noticed infestations in white fringe trees (Chionanthus virginicus), a multi-stemmed tree native to the southeastern United States with flowers like a cluster of streamers. And after looking at trees related to ashes, researchers reported lab evidence in 2017 that the beetle larvae can grow to adulthood in the Manzanilla variety of commercial olive trees (

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