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Purple Traps Going Up To Track Emerald Ash Borer


If you come across a purple box hanging from a tree this summer, let it be. That's the request from local, state and federal officials in charge of Wisconsin's efforts to deal with the emerald ash borer (EAB).

The purple boxes are traps set with bait to lure the adult EAB, which then gets caught in a sticky substance coating the trap. The goal is to find new infestations of the ash-killing insect and track its spread in Wisconsin. Workers will be setting up the traps in most counties of the state over the next several weeks.

"We rely on help from the public to make our trapping programs successful," says Brian Kuhn, director of the Bureau of Plant Industry in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. "We set the traps on a scientifically determined grid. Please don't move the boxes, and please allow us on your property to place them."

Employees from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will be setting the traps. In addition, a few local communities will set up and monitor their own traps.

As many as 1,100 traps may be set. That number may be reduced if some areas scheduled for trapping are inaccessible, weather conditions prevent getting all the traps out, or for other unforeseen reasons. Most of the traps will be set in counties where EAB has not yet been found. However, in the 13 counties were EAB has already been confirmed, some villages and cities may choose to set traps to find new infestations within their own borders.

Counties where EAB has been confirmed are Brown, Crawford, Kenosha, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Trempealeau, Vernon, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha.

Emerald ash borer was first found in Wisconsin in 2008 in Ozaukee County. The adult insects lay eggs on the bark of all species of ash trees. The eggs develop into tiny larvae that burrow under the bark and feed on the wood beneath. This kills the tree by disrupting its ability to carry water and nutrients up from the roots to the branches.

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