B y Derek Liebig
If you’ve drove down some of the areas’ back roads you may have noticed purple triangular boxes hanging from area trees. These aren’t the remains of an ill-fated kite flight gone wrong, but instead are traps used to track the progress of the Emerald Ash Borer.
The U.S. Forest Service, in collaboration with state and local organizations in both New York and Vermont, is hoping to determine whether the destructive insect has spread into the local region.
The traps are made of corrugated plastic and contain an Ash like oil that attracts the bug and a sticky nontoxic glue that keeps them in the traps. Research suggests that the traps purple color attracts insects.
According to Ethan Ready, Public Affairs Officer for the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes branch of the U.S. Forest Service, larvae of the Emerald Ash Borer feed on the inner bark material of Ash trees disrupting the flow of water and nutrients up and down the trees trunk.
The results are deadly.
“The kill rate is 100% within five years,” Ready said. “They infest all five ash tree species.”
The insects, which are dark metallic green in color and about one half inch long and one eighth of an inch wide, are native to Asia. Before June of 2002, the insect had never been found in North America.
The bugs were first discovered near Detroit and experts believe they likely arrived in the United States on or in solid wood packing material.
Although the insect is fully capable of flight, scientists believe many infestations started when people moved infested ash nursery trees, logs or firewood into un-infested areas. The Emerald Ash Borer is one of the primary reasons why many campgrounds ban campers from bringing their own wood into public campgrounds.
The insect, which has spread to 14 states in the Midwest and Northeast, including parts of New York as well as two Canadian Provinces, has not been found locally, but scientists are worried that it’s only a matter of time.
“We haven’t seen populations in the Green Mountain National Forest, but we’re anxious,” Ready said. “Its’ kill rate underscores the importance of early detection.”
Once the insects infect an area, the canopy of infested trees begins to thin above the trunk and other major branches. One third to one half of the branches may die in the first year and much of the canopy will be dead within two years.
When populations are high, small trees have been known to die in as little as one or two years and large trees in three or four years.
Ready said the traps have been hung in or near high use recreation areas.
Locally traps can be seen on County Routes 12 and 18 near the Granville-Whitehall border and another on Upper Turnpike Road.
To date scientists have yet to determine if the insects h