MDA Ramps up Emerald Ash Borer Survey Activities

2,600 Survey Traps Being Hung in Ash Trees

ANNAPOLIS (March 28, 2011) — As part of a national survey for the emerald ash borer (EAB), the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has started hanging 2,600 14" x 24" triangular purple or green insect traps in ash trees statewide. 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. In Prince George’s County, MDA will be also hanging 20 new green traps where we expect to collect beetles as part of the national “trap trial” study.

This year, the battle to stop the spread of the emerald ash borer will include more intensive surveys in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore – including Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties for the first time as part of the national grid survey in areas 50 miles outside of known infestation areas. Additionally, MDA will use systemic insecticides to treat selected trees in and around the known infested area and release three biocontrol agents (beneficial insects) at selected sites.

The highest density of traps will be in the area where emerald ash borer has been found between the Washington beltway and Route 4 in Prince George’s County and Routes 6 and 225 in Charles County. Surveyors will place at least one trap per 2 square miles across the rest of Maryland targeting high risk areas such as campgrounds and urban areas. Both the purple and green traps are sticky and baited with a compound that simulates a distressed ash tree. They 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 Secretary Buddy Hance. “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 – including Pennsylvania and West Virginia – 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.”

The emerald ash borer was transported to Prince George’s County, Maryland on an illegal shipment of ash trees from Michigan in 2003. 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.

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, but chemical and biological control tools, and public awareness, can help to stop its spread.

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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