2015 Small Newspaper - Gold


The emerald ash borer, an insect that has laid waste to more than 100 million ash trees from New Jersey to Colorado, has wiped out virtually every ash tree in southeast Michigan. In much of the rest of the state's Lower Peninsula, there are few trees left to save. In a detailed look at the local impact of the pest, Matthew Miller described efforts by researchers to identify the borer and slow the devastation, including the use of tiny stingless wasps that prey on the borer's eggs and larvae. They also are exploring ways to cross North American ash trees with resistant trees from China, the borer's native range. In his tale on the history of the ash borer, Miller touched on the work of the 19th century French priest and naturalist Armand David and even the impact of China's Cultural Revolution on the work of Chinese experts on the borer. While scientists have lost almost every battle so far against the borer, Miller says, "They may yet win the war." Dan Vergano, a science writer for BuzzFeed, said that "Miller digs into the story with the persistence of the ash borer itself." Miller noted: "The ash borer piece was supposed to be about a single journal article. I kept reporting because I was fascinated by the scientific detective work that had gone into fighting the borer and by the striking changes it had left in its wake."