"Nature wins out,'' an acquaintance recently told me. The more I thought about that statement, I realized that I could think of some instances where that was true and some instances that I really hope that it does.
In the 1990s, Ohio was dealing with the effects of the gypsy moth. It is a forest pest capable of defoliating oaks and other hardwood trees in forests and residential areas.
The gypsy moth became a nuisance pest as well as a pest that could significantly harm the timber industry and environment.
Enter Entomophaga maimaiga, the ''gypsy moth fungus.'' This fungus was introduced from its native Asia several times and finally was established in the U.S.
The fungus infects the gypsy moth larvae in May and June, killing them before they can reach the moth stage, removing the next generation. Nature wins.
American elms once lined the country's streets and dominated eastern forests until they succumbed by the millions to Dutch elm disease, which arrived in the United States in 1931.
Much research has been done in the years to follow to develop an elm that would be resistant / tolerant to this disease. One of these elms, Jefferson, was particularly interesting to two USDA scientists, who pursued genetic testing of wild elms across the species' eastern and central U.S. range. Their studies strongly suggest that there are genetic differences giving hope that some of the elms have developed disease resistance. Studies continue.
Nature wins - but here locally as summer approaches, it is clear the effects of Dutch elm disease are still evident. Many elm trees reach a size of 8 to 12 inch diameter before succumbing to the disease.
What about emerald ash borer? Trumbull County is starting to see the damage this pest can do. If you travel around the western part of the county, you will notice a lot of dead ash trees, especially along state Route 534 and U.S. Route 422. So far, we haven't seen a silver bullet for this pest yet. It was first detected in Ohio in 2001.
Aggressive measures were taken to try to isolate the pest and then eradicate it by destroying infested trees. Unfortunately, this pest was misdiagnosed as a native borer for several years, and when it was properly identified, it had spread. Although, control efforts were ineffective, we had to try. One for the bug.
A new disease of concern to black walnut trees is Thousand Cankers Disease. It is similar to Dutch elm disease, in that it is a fungal pathogen spread by a small beetle.
Walnut tree dieback and mortality occurs when a tiny bark beetle, native to Arizona, California and New Mexico creates numerous galleries beneath the bark of affected branches, resulting in fungal infection and canker formation.
This disease has been found in nine western states. In 2010, it was found Tennessee. And in 2011, it was found in Virginia and Pennsylvania.
A number of factors suggest that this disease could establish in eastern forests: the widespread distribution of eastern black walnut, the susceptibility of this tree species to the disease, and the capacity of the fungus and beetle to invade new areas and survive under a wide range of climatic conditions.
In December 2012, a walnut twig beetle was caught in a trap near a facility that processes walnut logs near Cincinnati, but no evidence of the disease was found. The Ohio Department of Agriculture has traps in many counties in the state to determine if this pest has been established in Ohio. Right now, I would have to say one for the disease.
One more. Asian Longhorned Beetle has been introduced into an area east of Cincinnati. It is believed that infested packing material from Asia as the culprit.
This is the eighth infestation in the U.S. The beetle prefers maple species, including boxelder, Norway, red, silver and sugar maples. Other preferred hosts are birches, Ohio buckeye, elms, horse chestnut and willows.
Some of the U.S. infestations have been eradicated. The only way to do this is to remove infested trees and destroy them by chipping or burning. To prevent further spread of the insect, quarantines are established to avoid transporting infested trees and branches from the area.
Early detection and rapid treatment response are crucial to successful eradication of the beetle. The jury is still out in Ohio for this one. I believe it will be eradicated; it is just going to take a lot of time and effort.
Mary Smallsreed is a member of Trumbull County Farm Bureau and grew up on a family dairy farm in northeast Ohio.