SOURCE: US Department of Agriculture

US Department of Agriculture

May 23, 2011 09:00 ET

EAB Beetle's Destruction Spreads -- "Don't Move Firewood" Is the USDA's Plea to the Public

Purple Traps Are Set Across the Country

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - May 23, 2011) - May 22 to 28, 2011 is Emerald Ash Borer Beetle Awareness Week and the public is being asked to not move firewood as part of the campaign.

Federal and state agencies are fighting to protect the nation's ash trees from the EAB, a small but destructive beetle that has killed tens of millions of these trees since being detected in 2002 in Michigan. Typically, the EAB does not travel far on its own; it's known as a hitchhiker catching rides in cut wood.

In fact, the EAB has spread across 15 states. The spread is attributed to people moving EAB-infested firewood. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is asking everyone to buy and use local firewood, and to never move firewood across a county or state line.

One tool in the USDA's EAB-fighting arsenal is the purple trap. This device is being set across the country by the USDA and its state partners to monitor for the presence of the EAB. The beetles are attracted to the color, as well as a scented lure used to bait the traps.

As the weather gets warmer, EAB adults emerge from under the bark of ash trees and fly around, nibble on ash tree leaves and look for a mate. If one lands on a purple trap, it will get stuck in the glue. The traps are harmless to the environment, pets and other wildlife. They do not bring the beetle into an area, but they do help detect it if it's already present. When the beetle is found in a trap, a series of actions are triggered, which could include county and/or state restrictions on the legal movement of firewood.

Ash trees are important to the nation. Wood from the trees are used to make furniture, tools and even Louisville Slugger baseball bats, and ash trees provide shade and beauty to neighborhoods, cities and forests. Tree damage comes from the EAB larvae, which eat the wood under the bark. This starves the tree of water and nutrients, slowly killing it over one to two years. There is no cure for the devastation caused by the beetle, which is why federal, state and local teams are reaching out to the public for help.

The goal is to alert all citizens about the danger that the EAB poses to the country's ash tree population. The EAB is moving across the country and has currently been detected in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Because many people are unaware of the consequences their actions can cause when they move firewood, here are guidelines they can use to help stop the beetle:

  • Purchase firewood locally and burn it where you buy it.
  • Know the source of firewood, make sure it's local.
  • When you camp, picnic or vacation, purchase firewood at your destination.
  • Never take leftover wood from your campsite or cabin back home.

For more information, visit or join the cause on Facebook and Twitter.

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