Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Purple Box, Detector Gadget (for the Week of Aug. 24, 2008)

August 21, 2008

Q. Dear Twig: There's a funny purple box in a tree by the road near my house. I live in northern Ohio. I saw one in Pennsylvania, too. What are they?

A. Hey, good eyes to spot them! They're traps for the emerald ash borer, a small, shiny-green beetle that kills ash trees. (Boo.) The traps will show if the beetle is spreading. Thousands of traps just like them hang in ash trees in the Midwest and East.

The purple color attracts the bug — catches its eye. ("Hmm. Lookit that!") (A study found that purple works best.) A special scent lures the bug in. It gets stuck, gik, in sticky stuff — trapped.

Emerald ash borers came to North America from Asia. They came by accident, in ships or wooden boxes. They showed up near Detroit in 2002. They've spread since then to other places. They've wiped out tens of millions of ashes.

The traps will tell us where the bugs are, where they're going, and where we need to take steps fast to stop or slow the invasion.

Detectorly,

Twig

P.S. Where it's at: Mich., Ohio, Ind., Ill., Pa., W.Va., Md., Mo., Wisc. and Ontario, Canada.

Notes:

Ohio State's big Farm Science Review event, Sept. 16-18 near London, Ohio, will have a talk about the purple emerald ash borer traps at 11 a.m. on Sept. 18 in the Gwynne Conservation Area. Get details on the presentation in an Ohio State press release here: http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~news/story.php?id=4777.

The traps are part of a national effort led by scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Find a fact sheet about the program and the traps at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/plant_health/content/printable_version/faq_eab_08.pdf.

Read more on the emerald ash borer at Ohio State's Ash Alert Web site, http://ashalert.osu.edu/.

About This:

"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," published by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — specifically, by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College — is a weekly feature for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. It's written at, to and for a 4th-grade reading level.

For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, knebusch.1@osu.edu, (330) 263-3776.

Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.

Author(s): 
Kurt Knebusch