Flying purple beetle eaters: Emerald ash borer traps hung across the state

by | Jun 4, 2014

Craig Lawing, NCFS, hangs an emerald ash borer trap in an ash tree. Image: K. Oten, NCFS.

Craig Lawing, NCFS, hangs an emerald ash borer trap in an ash tree. Image: K. Oten, NCFS.

You may have already seen them along roadsides: 3-feet-tall purple prisms, hanging in trees. No, there’s not a child crying somewhere about his lost kite. These are traps for the emerald ash borer, an invasive tree-killing insect detected in North Carolina for the first time last year.

Between 1,300 and 1,400 traps are currently being set across the state by the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division. The N.C. Forest Service assisted the program by trapping some of the counties as well. The traps will stay up for 10-12 weeks and are designed to capture adult emerald ash borers. Inside the trap, a hanging lure (which smells like a declining ash tree) draws the beetles in. As they approach it, the purple color of the trap also acts to attract them. Next thing they know – BAM! – they are stuck to the side of the trap in a very sticky substance that covers the outside.

Currently, there are four N.C. counties in which emerald ash borer has been detected. Each of these counties (Warren, Granville, Vance and Person) are quarantined, meaning ash material and hardwood firewood cannot be transported from a quarantined area to a non-quarantined area (some exceptions are made; for example, wood that has been heat treated or had the bark removed may be moved). While the emerald ash borer can fly from tree to tree over short distances, it can easily be spread over long distance through the transportation of infested material. The quarantine was established to best protect the remaining ash resources in the state from this long-range, human-facilitated movement.

Trapping is done to determine how far (if at all) the destructive emerald ash borer has spread. If the emerald ash borer is found in new areas, its identification will be confirmed and quarantines will likely be implemented in the new counties.

To learn more about the emerald ash borer, visit the NCFS FAQ page. To learn more about the emerald ash borer quarantine, visit Plant Industry’s Quarantine and Compliance Agreement FAQ page.