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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

State to begin survey of emerald ash borer this week

Sun Gazette
HARRISBURG — A statewide survey to determine the extent of the spread of a troublesome beetle will get under way this week, commonwealth agriculture officials said.

The emerald ash borer, a beetle known for its destructive nature, was detected last year in Butler and Allegheny counties. A quarantine was imposed there and in Beaver and Lawrence counties to restrict movement of nursery stock, green lumber and any other ash wood, including firewood.

The borer is a wood-boring beetle that is native to China and eastern Asia.

Adult emerald ash borer are dark green and measure about 1/2-inch long and 1/8-inch wide. They fly from early May to September and live as larvae the rest of the year beneath the bark of ash trees.

When they emerge as adults, they damage the trees, leaving D-shaped holes in the bark about 1/8-inch wide.

Beginning this week, the state will place bright purple boxes on ash trees, 15- by 24-inch sticky traps, to attract and capture adult borers in a survey to assess how far the invasive beetle has spread in western Pennsylvania,

“Emerald ash borer has the potential to devastate our ash tree population,” said Dennis Wolff, agriculture secretary for Pennsylvania. “By using these traps, we will be able to determine if the threat has moved further east in the state. If so, we can identify the next steps to protect the trees.”

The Department of Agriculture will use a crew of 70 surveyors to place the traps across 35 of the state’s 67 counties, which will be divided into 1.5-square-mile grids. Each grid area will receive one trap, with 10,000 traps to be distributed,.

Each of the purple traps will be labeled with the department’s Web site and toll-free pest hotline, which is 1-866-253-7189.

The rest of the state’s counties will be surveyed by other state and federal agriculture agencies, officials said.

State officials said campers and landowners in the counties within the quarantine area are reminded to use only locally harvested firewood, to burn all their firewood on site and to not to carry it to other sites because the borer can spread that way.

People who suspect they have seen emerald ash borers should contact the state agriculture department

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