The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis)
What is it?
The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) [EAB] is an invasive green beetle species native to Asia. It was accidentally introduced to the United States in the 1990s. This insect has killed about 100 million ash trees throughout North American and threatens the remaining ones. It causes an estimated $3.5 billion in damages each year.
A female ash borer will typically lay 100 eggs. 56% of these eggs will be female; multiplying the population x50 each year (in 10 years one insect turns into 50 trillion!). It is the larvae that then bore through the trees, eventually killing them.
So what can be done?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be conducting a 2013 Emerald Ash Survey ( You can view a factsheet about this survey at the APHIS website here. This survey will use “computer generated risk-based sample design to monitor EAB infestations and determine whether undetected pockets of incursion are present” (USDA, 2013).
The purple trap is a detection tool used for EAB monitoring. Research has found that EABs are attracted to the color purple, red and green. These “traps” are sticky and beetles that fly onto them become stuck (like a fly trap). These traps do not help deplete populations of EABs, they are merely a detection tool.
The USDA, along with their partners will place 10,000 traps within a 100 mile buffer surrounding known infested areas. This will help define the edge of the infestation; which will offer better mitigation and biological control. In addition, another 10,000 traps will be distributed in a wider area at lower densities to target at risk sites; to monitor any new establishments of EABs.
The United States has 16 native species of ash trees and they are all EAB hosts (USDA, 2013).
Here is a link to images of the EAB lifecycle.
Distribution map of the emerald ash borer