State Ramps up Emerald Ash Borer Eradication Activities

4,000 Purple Survey Traps Being Hung in Trees; Testing New Insecticide

ANNAPOLIS (May 6, 2009) – As part of a national survey for the emerald ash borer (EAB), the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) will begin hanging 4,000 14" x 24" triangular purple insect traps in trees statewide, up from 400 last year. Surveys, which are continuous and ongoing, are crucial to understanding the emerald ash borer’s impact in Maryland and determining the best course of action. This year, the battle to stop the spread of the emerald ash borer will include limited tree removal and a promising new chemical treatment of ash trees in the arsenal.

The highest density (16/sq. mi.) of purple traps will be in the core area between the Washington beltway and Route 4 in Prince George’s County and Routes 6 and 225 in Charles County. Traps will be deployed in lower densities (1-4/sq. mi.) approximately 50 miles out from the core area and in other targeted areas. The purple traps, which are sticky and baited with a compound that simulates a distressed ash tree, are designed to attract the destructive emerald ash borer, should it be present. Residents should not be concerned if they see the traps and should not disturb them. MDA will place some traps on private property. All traps should be in the trees through August and will be checked every two weeks.

“Our challenge is to keep the emerald ash borer from spreading so we hope we don’t find any in these traps. As new tools have become available, we are modifying our strategy,” said Agriculture Roger Richardson. “Since the insect can travel easily on firewood that might be moved from Prince George’s or Charles counties and other states where it has been introduced, we are trapping along travel routes. In addition we are encouraging campers, hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts to buy their firewood at their destination rather than take it with them.”

Five hundred pairs (1,000 total) of 1 ½ - 2-inch green ash will be planted as trap trees in around the ash free zone to capture and/or kill emerging emerald ash borers. Half of the trees will be treated with systemic insecticide and paired with an untreated tree that will be harvested in the fall to provide population density information. The treated trees will be left in place for at least two years.

Additionally, MDA and its partners will continue to resurvey the ash free zone to ensure that all ash has been removed. If ash trees are found they will be removed or treated. This includes the areas added in 2008, most notably the area that spans Prince George’s and Charles counties.

The emerald ash borer was transported to Maryland on an illegal shipment of ash trees from Michigan in 2003, and has since become a problem in Maryland. Thousands of ash trees have been destroyed in Prince George’s and Charles counties to eradicate the problem. The insect, an exotic pest from Asia, feeds on and kills ash trees in one to three years after infestation.

The presence of the emerald ash borer typically goes undetected until the trees show symptoms of being infested – usually the upper third of a tree will thin and then die back. This is usually followed by a large number of shoots or branches arising below the dead portions of the trunk. Other symptoms of infestation include: D-shaped exit holes in the bark where adults emerge, vertical splits in the bark, and distinct serpentine-shaped tunnels beneath the bark in the cambium, where larvae effectively stop food and water movement in the tree, starving it to death. The only way to eliminate the emerald ash borer is to cut down its food source - ash trees.

For more information about the purple traps or to report signs of dying ash trees, contact the Maryland Department of Agriculture at 410-841-5920. For information about the emerald ash borer, visit .

Source: Maryland Department of Agriculture

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