At first glance, it looks like a purple box kite caught in a tree.
On closer inspection, however, you can see the ropes that tie the odd-looking contraption so that it’s suspended high from the branches of the tree.
It’s called an EAB trap and more than 900 of them are now hanging from ash trees on public and private lands across the state in effort to trap any Emerald Ash Borers that may have invaded the state. The borer is a type of beetle that invades ash trees and is killing millions of the trees in other states. The destructive insect has been detected 25 miles from the Connecticut border in New York, so the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in conjunction with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, wants to figure out if they’re in Connecticut.
In all, 940 traps have been installed in ash trees in state and federal parks, as well as on private forestry lands. Under the program, which began in May, the traps will be placed in every Connecticut county except Windham and New London counties because they’re greater than 50 miles from the nearest known detection of the ash borer in New York.
So far, environmental officials have said, the beetle has not invaded Connecticut.
The University of Connecticut Extension Service will monitor the traps, in cooperation with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s forestry and parks personnel, the state Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"The EAB is an extremely destructive pest and is responsible for the death and decline of over 25 million ash trees in the U. S. since June, 2002." DEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said in unveiling the program this spring. "Considering Connecticut has more than 22 million ash trees, its presence here could have a devastating effect on the beauty of our forests, state and local parks and our neighborhoods, as well as the state’s wood product industries."
According to information on the DEP’s website, the EAB is a small, green beetle that belongs to a large family of beetles known as the buprestids, or metallic wood boring beetles. Many of the buprestids appear as if their wing covers are made of polished metal. The adult EAB has green, iridescent wing covers and is approximately one-half inch in length. It is not native to North America. It was first found in 2002 in the vicinity of Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. It is presumed to have arrived several years earlier on woody packaging materials. It can now be found in 12 states and was discovered in nearby Saugerties, New York in July of 2010. EABs feed strictly on ash trees. The larvae feed just beneath the bark on the inside of the trees, while the adults feed on leaves.
Here, courtesy of the DEP, are a few quick facts about the purple traps you might see hanging in your town:
They’re nicknamed "Barney traps" due to their large size (about 3-foot by 1- foot) and purple color.
They’ve been placed in targeted locations similar to where EAB was initially detected in other states, such as private and public campgrounds, DOT rest stops, nurseries and wood product locations.
They use oil to attract and lure the beetles.
The surface of the trap is coated with a sticky material which causes the EAB to adhere to it.
Traps cannot bring EAB into an area that is not already infested.
Birds and other wildlife will not become entangled in the traps.
The detection traps are sticky, but non-toxic to humans.