Emerald ash borer surveys being conducted in Pennsylvania

June 03, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- Several state and federal agencies, in collaboration with Penn State Cooperative Extension, are on the lookout for various species of invasive insects once again this summer in many parts of Pennsylvania.

Survey efforts are targeting the emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis, which is deadly to ash trees. The emerald ash borer is a small beetle with stealth-like behavior patterns that make it extremely difficult to detect. If not managed, the beetle threatens to devastate the ash species in North America.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) will employ 15 two-person survey crews, who will conduct gridded surveys around the five, core emerald-ash-borer-infested counties (Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence and Mercer) through August. The western counties of Armstrong, Cambria, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Somerset, Venango, Warren, Washington and Westmoreland will also be a part of this survey.

To detect emerald ash borer, survey crews have hung purple panel sticky traps in trees. Traps were placed in ash trees within predetermined grids measuring 1.5 square miles. Resembling a box kite, these traps are three-sided and coated with nontoxic glue, with each panel measuring about 14 inches by 24 inches.

The traps also contain a blended lure of 80 percent manuka oil (the essential oil extracted from the manuka tree, Leptospermum scoparium) and 20 percent phoebe oil (an extract of Brazilian walnut, Phoebe porosa). This lure mimics chemicals emitted by stressed ash trees, which may make the traps more effective in detecting the emerald ash borer at low population levels.

"The purple panel traps will not bring emerald ash borer into a noninfested site," said Greg Hoover, ornamental extension entomologist in Penn State's Department of Entomology. "These traps help us determine if the pest is already there."

The emerald ash borer was detected for the first time in Mifflin County in February 2009. As a result, delimiting surveys will be conducted by PDA survey crews in that county, as well as in several surrounding central Pennsylvania counties.

The remaining Pennsylvania counties will be covered by other cooperating agencies. Special survey activities in the core emerald-ash-borer-infested area in western Pennsylvania may take place but will be conducted by outside cooperators overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Employees in the regional offices of PDA also will be placing emerald ash borer survey traps in counties within their areas of the commonwealth.

Officials are asking for the public's cooperation in ensuring that these traps are undisturbed so they can provide important information on the distribution of the emerald ash borer in Pennsylvania. "We realize that these traps may be unsightly to some and a source of entertainment to others, but in order for the purple panel sticky traps to work, they must be left alone," Hoover said.

Placement and servicing of traps will be the primary activity of the PDA survey crews. Images and descriptions of the trap being deployed can be found online at http://ento.psu.edu/extension/trees-shrubs/emerald-ash-borer.

All traps will be labeled with the Department of Agriculture Web site address and a toll-free phone number at (866) 253-7189.

The local county office of Penn State Cooperative Extension will be the first point of contact for residents reporting an invasive species. Survey crews will be dispatched to investigate reports deemed credible. The crews will have state identification and fluorescent orange vests printed with EMERALD ASH BORER PROGRAM and will be driving vehicles identified with magnetic placards.

Besides PDA, participating agencies in the surveys include the Plant Protection and Quarantine division of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the USDA Forest Service, and the Division of Forest Pest Management of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Bureau of Forestry.

For more information on the pest surveys, contact Greg Hoover by mail at The Pennsylvania State University, 543 ASI Building, University Park, PA 16802; by e-mail at gah10@psu.edu; or by phone at (814) 865-3256.

For more information about the emerald ash borer in Pennsylvania, as well as links to other state and national sources of information, visit the Web at http://ento.psu.edu/extension/trees-shrubs/emerald-ash-borer.



  • Traps such as this will help officials detect the presence of the destructive emerald ash borer.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated November 18, 2010