ISPM 15 proves to be effective

There is some good news and bad news on the invasive insect front. The good news is that according to a study by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) the incidence rate of infestation in international wood packaging materials has dropped significantly since the adaption of ISPM 15 in 2004. In a previous blog we reported that measuring the effectiveness of ISPM 15 would be difficult because of lack of data prior to the international standards adoption. According to the study, reductions of 52% are confirmed and had there been adequate data previous to adoption, some believe that the reduction would be closer to 97%.

ISPM 15 is an international standard for wood packaging materials that was created in 2004 and has been adopted by virtually every major country that does foreign trade. The standard requires all wood packaging materials to be treated to insure that invasive wood boring insects would be eliminated. Currently there are three acceptable types of treatment: Heat, chemical fumigation and radiation. Treated wood that meets ISPM 15 standards are designated by a special stamp.

So the good news is that the standard is working. The bad news is that for insects that have invaded the US before the treaty, the battle is still raging; specifically, the Emerald Ash Borer.

The Emerald Ash Borer is a green beetle that is native to the north western part of Asia. It was originally discovered in the US in 2001, but latest studies are concluding that the insect arrived as early as 1991. It is believed that the Ash Borer arrived in wood crates from China. The Emerald Ash Borer drills into Ash trees to plant its larvae. The Larvae gets its nutrients from the tree sap. Over time the tree is unable to maintain a supply of moisture from its roots and dies.

It estimated that well over 200 million Ash trees have died. 22 US states and 2 Canadian Providences have reported infestation. One of the problems is that it is difficult to detect if a tree is infected early on. The process of killing the tree takes several generations of larvae and by the time a tree is noticeably declining, the insects have already moved on to other trees. Early detection techniques include boring holes into trees at specific intervals to find larvae. While there are chemical treatments that can prevent the cycle, but the infestation must be detected early for the treatment to work.

Many entomologists were hopeful that the extreme cold winter of 2013-2014 would kill off the beetle, at least in the northern climates. Studies show that at least in cold climates like Minnesota, significant damage was done when temperatures were nearly 20 below zero. However many other areas did not see those temperature extremes. Bottom line is that while there has been a significant reduction in the ranks of this destructive insect, the Emerald Ash Borer is expected to thrive again. For those of us that live in Minneapolis/St. Paul, it is possible that we will see a short respite from these critters.

Nationwide, the Emerald Ash Borer infestation has been labeled as the most destructive invasive species event in the history of North America. The total economic impact of this beetle is staggering and will end up being Billions of dollars of lost commerce and removal costs.

Packnet is a certified supplier of ISPM 15 compliant wood packaging and crating solutions.