Large Scale Collection of Emerald Ash Borers to Begin This Spring

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State agriculture officials have a new way to try to stop a tree-killing insect. They will begin hanging more than 7,000 traps this spring to catch the Emerald Ash Borer. The Asian insect has damaged or killed an estimated 25 million ash trees in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

The Emerald Ash Borer traps have never been used before. Ohio State University entomologist Daniel Herms says they won’t control the massive infestation.

“The traps are merely a detection tool,” Herms says. “They have no affect on the population of the beetles.”

But Herms says they can help researchers determine how far the Asian beetle is spreading. 7,000 colored and scented traps will be hung in Ohio ash trees this spring.

“They’re a sticky trap that’s colored purple which is attractive to Emerald Ash Borers and they’re baited with an oil which contains chemicals that are also attractive. And they hang these traps in the canopies of trees. And the combination of the visual stimulus and the odor attracts them to these traps where they get stuck on glue.”

The trap looks like fly paper. The odor is similar to the chemical vapors that the bark of an ash tree releases. The purple color is a way to arouse the borer’s sexual instinct.

“Emerald Ash Borer doesn’t produce a sex pheromone but they’re attracted to the tree and that’s where they meet and find mates,” says Herms. “And this trap takes advantage of some of the visual cues that they use like this purple coloration that the beetles have under their wings that they flash during courtship rituals and so forth.”

In the past, researchers have deliberately wounded ash trees, cutting their bark, making an insect attack more likely. But Herms says using traps is cheaper and more effective. Even though eradication of the beetle is still not possible, entomologist Herms says there’s a glimmer of hope.

“We’re also looking at whether ash will come back,” he says. “So we’re looking to see whether there are dormant ash seeds in the soil, to see whether dormant ash seedlings will germinate and if so will ash return to the forest or will it just prolong the Emerald Ash Borer invasion?”

Though only three Great Lakes states have been affected on a wide scale, 47 states are participating in the project. 10 percent of the trees in Ohio are ash. State Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Melissa Brewer says Ohio has more than 3.8 billion ash trees.

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