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Those who live or travel in Kentucky this summer probably will see purple prisms hanging at least 10 feet above the ground in ash trees. These prisms are traps for the Emerald Ash Borer, a destructive insect that was found in Kentucky during the summer of 2009.
The Emerald Ash Borer is a small, dark green metallic beetle that attacks all species of ash trees. Adult borers feed on a tree’s leaves during May and June. The larvae burrow into the tree to feed under the bark from July through October, destroying the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. This can cause loss of the entire canopy and ultimately kill the tree within a year or two.
The borer was discovered in 2002 in Michigan. Since then it has spread and destroyed more than 40 million trees in 10 states and cost countless numbers of homeowners millions of dollars in tree removal and replacement.
About 6,000 traps are being installed now, said Lee Townsend, extension entomologist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. The traps are part of an Emerald Ash Borer survey, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and the U.S. Forest Service. The Kentucky Office of the State Entomologist is overseeing the installation of the traps.
Traps are placed in a grid pattern about 1.5 to 2 miles apart along the leading edge of the quarantine area established after the insect was discovered in the state. The quarantine applies to an area in north central Kentucky roughly between Louisville, Lexington, Covington and Greenup County. In addition, traps will be placed at rest areas, campgrounds, state parks and other tourist attractions across the state. They will remain in place through the borer’s flight, which ends in August, and collected for examination.
The traps are about two feet long and baited with an attractant to lure the borers if they are present in the area. Traps will not cause any harm to humans, animals or trees.
If an Emerald Ash Borer infestation is suspected, contact the USDA-APHIS Emerald Ash Borer Hotline at 866-322-4512 or the Kentucky Office of the State Entomologist at 859-257-5838. Information on the status of this insect in Kentucky is available at http://pest.ca.uky.edu/EXT/EAB/welcome.html .