The Fate of Ornamental White Fringetree Through the Invasion Wave of Emerald Ash Borer and Implications for Novel Host Use by This Beetle

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Emerald ash borer (EAB, Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire [Coleoptera: Buprestidae]) is a wood boring beetle that is an invasive pest of ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) in North America. In 2014, it was reported that EAB had infested white fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus L. [Lamiales: Oleaceae]) in Ohio and was since found to have infested this species across its invasive range. In 2018, we reexamined 166 white fringetrees in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania that had been previously examined for EAB attack in 2015 to determine their fate. We assessed tree health and EAB infestation in each tree, assigned an infestation status of newly, continuously, not reinfested, or never infested, and compared the trees’ current status to their 2015 status. This assessment was done to determine whether their health and infestation status had changed through the EAB invasion wave. We found that attack rates declined: 26% of trees were infested in 2015 whereas only 13% were in 2018, likely coinciding with declining beetle populations in the area. Overall tree health improved for trees that were not reinfested by EAB after a record of attack in 2015, suggesting that they can survive and recover from EAB attack. Conversely, health declined for newly and continuously infested trees, indicating that they became stressed from EAB attack. Although the majority of the trees survived the invasion wave, several were removed from various sites due to EAB attack suggesting that white fringetree varies in its resistance and tolerance to attack. As beetle populations continue to expand geographically, infestation rates will likely increase and health of white fringetrees will decrease with the EAB attack wave, especially as EAB reaches denser populations of fringetrees.



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