It’s true; at least two beautiful emerald green beetles can be found in north-central PA this time of year; one is a native species with a special role to play in maintaining a balance in the forest ecosystem and the other has had a devastating impact on our Pennsylvania Ash tree population.
The adult emerald ash borer is small and pill-shaped, with a body tapered to a point at the hind end. The emerald ash borer is a slow walker and is able to fly. It’s diet consists of the leaves of ash trees. The problem is that the emerald ash borer eats the vital living tissues of ash trees beneath the outer bark layer during the beetle's larval stages.
The adult tiger beetle is the same color as the emerald ash borer, a little larger, has long legs in comparison to the body, and it’s hind end is more rounded. The tiger beetle is a very quick on its feet and can also fly. The tiger beetle is predatory in nature and it’s diet consists of smaller insects which it catches with swift maneuvering and pinching mouth parts.
Both are the tiger beetle and the emerald ash borer are good creations of God; in truth, everything that has life is a good creation of God.
The emerald ash borer is part of the natural balance in Asia, and it’s current extreme abundance in parts of North America is due in part to a lack of natural predators.
The tiger beetle is part of the natural balance here in Pennsylvania.
While I never relish the killing of any animal or insect, if you should choose to take insect control measures into your own hands squashing one emerald ash borer at a time I encourage you to take a look at the photos below to be sure you do not mistake a native tiger beetle for an exotic invasive emerald ash borer.
Truth be told, arguably the best conservation measure for our Ash trees is the seed bank that has been established so that, in decades to come, after the emerald ash borer has wiped out all of the current remaining ash trees to the point where the emerald ash borer itself is eliminated for lack of food, ash trees grown from the seeds in the seed bank, with hope, will once again have a presence in our Pennsylvania forests.
As we love God, love others, and live into community with all that has life may we all go forth in the peace, love, and hope of God and be bold enough to share these gifts.