Purple Prisms Help Detect Emerald Ash Borer
Having evaluated substantial damage to a tree adjacent to the Pike To Bike entrance near the Fulton/Bedford County line, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture have chosen to implement a delimiting survey here in Fulton County to help determine if the invasive emerald ash borer has established a presence locally.
The emerald ash borer (EAB) originally hails from Southeast Asia and was first found in North America in 2002 when it was detected in Michigan. Since that time, it has spread to neighboring states as well as Canada. The invasive insect’s first appearance in the commonwealth was officially recorded by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) three years ago, although it was believed to have been in existence in Cranberry Township, Butler County, since 1999 or 2000.
While its size is a diminutive one-half inch length during the adult stage of life, EAB can have a devastating effect, as it feeds exclusively on ash trees ranging in variety from green, white and black to blue and pumpkin. Ash trees comprise 3.6 percent of forestland in Pennsylvania or 300 million trees statewide.
According to Buchanan State Forest District Forester Jim Smith, in spite of EAB not yet being detected in the county, the closest sighting is only a very short distance away in Breezewood, Bedford County. In true EAB fashion, the tree is lacking bark and shows galleries or S-shaped grooves created by feeding larvae.
As a result, through the delimiting survey, purple prism traps have been hung from trees in high traffic areas on the Sideling Hill area of Fulton County by PDA to help lure in the adult insects. Not necessarily utilized for suppression efforts as many think, the prisms are merely to help detect the presence of the insect.
A total of 48 traps were placed in high-risk state-managed lands in 22 counties in early June, the PDA reports, and baited internally with Manuka oil lure. The exterior of each trap is covered with glue to help catch the adults attracted to the lure.
The traps will continue to be monitored through the summer months, and the lure will reportedly be replenished in late July. Any suspected EAB captured will be sent to laboratories for identification.
Locally, the traps can be observed along major highways such as Route 30 and 915 due to their proximity to Breezewood. Smith said Route 915 and the Sideling Hill area are both major vectors for relocating the bug as the number one means of transporting EAB is through firewood.
“People will travel to state parks and bring their own firewood instead of buying it locally,” said Smith, who added Bedford County is currently under quarantine by PDA.
In connection with quarantine guidelines, individuals are currently unable to remove any hardwood firewood from Bedford County as well as ash nursery stock, green lumber and other ash material such as logs, stumps, roots and wood chips. Other area counties affected by the quarantine include Juniata and Mifflin counties.
Smith and Assistant District Forester Bryon Wilford both reported to the “News” being inundated with requests for information about EAB and the purple prism traps seen by passing motorists. Wilford stated Memorial Day weekend alone he received 20 calls and comments on the traps.
Signs or symptoms pointing to the presence of EAB include S-shaped grooves on the inner bark and D-shaped holes where adults exit the tree in May and early June. Signs of older infections include branch dieback in the upper tree crown, excessive epicormic branching, vertical bark slits and woodpecker damage.
To help slow the spread of EAB, PDA encourages residents to buy and burn locally cut firewood, burn any wood transported from another area and do not move firewood any farther than 50 miles.
Anyone needing further information regarding EAB or wishing to report a possible sighting should call 866- 253-7189 or e-mail Badbug@ state.pa.us.