An exotic wood-boring beetle from Asia, the dark, metallic green insect bores into ash trees and feeds on the area between the wood and the bark, effectively killing the tree.
The half-inch long pest first was found in Michigan in 2002, and since has spread to at least 15 different states and Canada. The survey is designed to help tree experts determine if the beetle also has spread to Texas.
“It’s killing millions of ash trees in the Lake states,” said Ron Billings, Texas Forest Service forest health manager. “Right now, the emerald ash borer hasn’t been detected in Texas. The closest known location is Missouri. But these insects can be easily spread.”
Beginning in March, foresters — working together with partnering agencies and trained volunteers — will begin hanging large, purple traps from select ash trees in Central and East Texas. They’ll be checked in June and August and then removed.
Resembling a three-paneled box kite, the purple traps will be hung in or near ash trees in state and federal parks, campgrounds and on private lands with landowner permission. Any suspicious-looking beetles that resemble emerald ash borers will be collected for review by experts.
More than 700 survey traps will be set out in 71 Texas counties this year as part of a cooperative effort between the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Texas Forest Service, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Stephen F. Austin State University College of Forestry and Agriculture and several volunteer citizen scientist groups.
If you’re a landowner in Bee County with ash trees — the only known host — on your property, and would like to participate, surveyors could use your help. Contact James Houser at (512) 339-4589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the location is suitable, surveyors will set up and monitor the trap for you and then remove it at the end of the survey.
If present in Texas, adult beetles would be searching for new hosts between April and August. For more information on the emerald ash borer and the trapping program, visit www.emeraldashborer.info. Emerald Ash Borer photos are available on the Texas Forest Service Facebook page.