The emerald ash borer (Agrilus plantipenis), a recent insect immigrant to North America carried in with the wooden packing material of imported goods, is projected to cause over a billion dollars in damages annually over the next decade. International standards now require expensive fumigation or heat treatment of wood pallets and crates to prevent the inadvertent import of new wood boring insect pests in shipping materials.
Preventative treatment is worthwhile when the cumulative damages of widening infestations are considered, report scientists in Ecological Society of America's journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Their cover story in the June 2014 issue, published online ahead of print, is the first pathway-level risk assessment of the net benefits of current international phytosanitary policy.
The emerald ash borer is already established throughout much of Michigan and areas of Illinois Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, Canada. Some critics have argued that investments in pest management are not justified because prevention can only delay invasions, and, unlike the emerald ash borer, many introduced species do not cause substantial damages. But there is an economic net benefit to preventing or delaying the introduction of the emerald ash borer to parts of the US that do not yet harbor it.
"Even when these factors are considered and incorporated along with the best available scientific data into our models, there is an expected economic net benefit to preventing or delaying the introduction of new pests, a few of which may be as bad or worse than the emerald ash borer," said lead author Brian Leung, an ecologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. "Treatment reduces the risk of low probability, but highly damaging, events, much like an insurance policy, or mitigation of natural disasters."
Global trade unintentionally moves living specie
|Contact: Liza Lester|
Ecological Society of America