Emerald ash borer takes flight

by | May 3, 2017

The days are warm now and many North Carolinians have thoughts of leaving their homes for summer vacation.  The invasive emerald ash borer is doing the same, except its destination is our beautiful ash trees.

It is peak flying season for the adult emerald ash borers, a time when they munch on ash leaves, mate, then lay eggs that will give rise to new destructive beetles. Every spring, warming is monitored so that we know when we can expect emerald ash borer to emerge from their hideouts within ash trees. As they emerge, they leave a D-shaped exit hole. It is this unique exit route that is commonly used in infestation identification. The adult emerald ash borer is currently active across most of the state and will be for the next couple of months.

A purple emerald ash borer trap hangs from an ash tree.

It is the adult stage that is targeted in statewide trapping efforts. Large, purple prism traps are hung in ash trees with a lure and sticky substance on the outer panels. Emerald ash borers are attracted to the shade of purple and the lure, and they fly right into the side of the trap where they get stuck. Trappers then check traps to detect new areas in North Carolina the beetle has invaded.

This year, the N.C. Forest Service’s Forest Health Branch and cooperators (including Duke Forest, City of Charlotte-Urban Forestry, Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge and The Nature Conservancy) set a total of 28 traps statewide. High-impact areas and areas where emerald ash borer is suspected to have invaded but has not yet been confirmed were targeted.

In addition to the traps, North Carolinians can help in the hunt. If you notice an ash tree in severe decline, check for D-shaped exit holes in the bark. To report a suspected infestation, email newpest@ncagr.gov (photos encouraged), call 800-206-9333, or contact your NCFS county ranger. We can’t protect ash trees if we don’t know where the emerald ash borer is lurking!

The emerald ash borer can be found scattered across the state. Map current as of 5/1/2017. Map created by K. Oten, NCFS.