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Purple traps helping track harmful bug

June 25, 2010
By DAVE SCHNEIDER Journal Outdoor Writer

While cruising around the central Upper Peninsula recently I've been noticing a large number of strange looking purple contraptions hanging from trees along the roadways.

Several other people mentioned they have seen them all over as well, prompting many to wonder what they are.

Upon closer examination you can find a small sign attached to the tree supporting the triangular objects that explain they are emerald ash borer traps. Placement of the traps across the U.P. is part of the continuing effort to combat the exotic pest in the state.

Article Photos

Emerald ash borer traps, like the one shown above, have been placed throughout the Upper Peninsula this summer as part of ongoing research into the spread of the damaging exotic beetle. (Journal photo by Dave Schneider)

That effort includes keeping a close eye on its movement, quarantining it in areas it is found and working on ways to stop its devastating impact on the state's ash trees.

Since being identified in 2002 as the reason ash trees were dying in large numbers in the Detroit area, the beetle has killed millions of ash trees in Michigan, nearby states and across the border from Detroit in the Windsor, Ontario, Canada, area.

Officials believe the beetle arrived in the U.S. via wood shipping crates from its native Asia. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, ash trees in North America have no immunity to the insect, so EAB has the potential to wipe out more than 700 million ash trees in Michigan alone.

Adult beetles nibble on leaves of ash trees, causing little damage. But the larval (immature) stage of the beetles feed on the inner bark of the trees, disrupting the trees' ability to transport water and nutrients. Only ash trees are affected by the beetles.

On its latest EAB quarantine map, the eastern half of the U.P. and the Keweenaw Peninsula are under quarantine because of confirmed presence of the beetle in those counties or in adjacent counties.

Items regulated by the MDA in quarantine areas include all hardwood firewood - not just ash wood - ash logs with bark, ash lumber with bark, hardwood chips greater than one-inch, ash limbs, ash branches, and ash stumps.

The quarantines are aimed at stopping the movement of infested ash wood and wood products, thus - hopefully - stopping its spread.

While our state may be at the middle of the emerald ash borer dilemma, the entire country and Canada is taking the threat very seriously. For example, the Michigan survey is part of a national effort that includes about 75,000 EAB traps in every state except Hawaii.

The purple prism traps, which are being set out in a grid pattern, are covered with sticky, non-toxic glue that "traps" the beetles.

Inside there is a lure made from oil of the Manuka tree, which was shown in field tests to attract emerald ash borers. Experiments also showed preference by the beetles for the purple color.

Traps will be left in place through most of the summer and then collected and examined for the targeted beetle. Since there are about 50 beetles in the area that are of the same genus, positive identification will have to be made by MDA entomologists.

More information on the beetle and the efforts to control it can be obtained by visiting the website, or by calling 1-866-322-4512.

Editor's note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His e-mail address



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