Is that a purple box kite lodged in that tree?
If you're wondering about a purple box you have seen hanging in an ash tree, you can rest assured it's not some kid's kite gone astray. It's a trap set by the Kansas Department of Agriculture to detect whether a particular shiny green pest has entered our state.
"Kansas is one of 47 states nationwide taking part in the U.S. Department of Agriculture survey to determine the range of the emerald ash borer population," said Bill Scott, manager of the department's plant protection and weed control program. "We put 100 of these traps in ash trees statewide, and USDA staff put out about 100 more, but our hope is that we don't catch a single one of these borers."
The three-dimensional, triangle-shaped traps are 24 inches long and hang vertically in an ash tree or are secured to the tree trunk. They are coated with nontoxic glue, and they are baited with oil from the Manuka tree. The traps pose no risk to humans, pets or wildlife, but their glue can be messy if touched.
Kansans are encouraged to report downed traps to the Kansas Department of Agriculture at 785-862-2180.
The traps are to attract and catch the emerald ash borer, a small, metallic-green, wood-boring beetle native to Asia that was discovered in Michigan in 2002. It has since been found in six other states--Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. It is not known to be in Kansas.
Adult emerald ash borers are about one-half inch long and they emerge in late spring. The larvae feed just under the bark of a tree, which damages and eventually kills the tree.
Trees infested with emerald ash borer will have canopy dieback, water sprouts, bark splitting, serpentine-like galleries and D-shaped exit holes. Although there has been no indication that the pest is here, Kansans are encouraged to watch their ash trees for these symptoms.
All ash species in North America are susceptible to emerald ash borer, and more than 30 million ash trees have been killed since the insect was first introduced to the continent. The insect moves slowly on its own, but it can hitch a ride to new areas when people unknowingly move firewood, nursery products or other infested wood products.
In addition to taking part in the national survey, the Kansas Department of Agriculture routinely inspects nursery stock for evidence of pests, including the emerald ash borer.
"Our goal is to detect damaging pests new to Kansas before they can do harm," Scott said. "That's why we were glad to participate in the emerald ash borer survey."
To learn more about the emerald ash borer, visit www.emeraldashborer.info. To learn more about the survey, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/index.shtml.