State Gets Into the Bug-Trapping Business

News release from the state Department of Agriculture:
Purple three-sided traps that resemble a box kite can be seen in ash trees in Knox, Loudon and surrounding counties in the next few months as part of a surveillance program by state and federal agencies.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA, APHIS) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) are partnering to survey for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a non-native, wood-boring beetle that has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the eastern United States and Canada. University of Tennessee Extension is also involved in the survey and detection program. EAB was first discovered in the state last summer at a truck stop along I-40 in Knox County.

“Trapping is a very important tool for us to know how extensive the infestation is and whether additional control measures are needed to slow it from spreading to new areas,” said TDA Plant Certification Administrator Gray Haun. “We urge property owners not to disturb the traps and to help us by letting us know if traps get damaged or are found on the ground.”
The goal of the trapping program is to assess the extent of the infestation and to locate new infestations for possible treatment and quarantine. Approximately 4,500 traps will be placed in trees within a 50-mile radius of the Knox county infestation. The purple traps are coated with an adhesive that captures insects when they land. The color is thought to be attractive to EAB, and is relatively easy for humans to spot among the foliage.
“The triangular purple traps pose no risk to humans, pets, or wildlife; however, the non-toxic glue can be extremely sticky,” said USDA Acting State Plant Health Director, Ken Copley. “It’s important people understand that the traps don’t attract or pull beetles into an area, but rather they are a detection tool to help find EAB if it is present in the area.”
State plant health officials suspect that EAB entered the state on firewood or ash wood materials brought in from another state where infestations have occurred. Other pests can also be artificially transported by individuals moving firewood. Citizens and visitors are urged to buy their firewood near where they camp and not transport it from one area to another.
Currently, Knox and Loudon counties are under a state and federal EAB Quarantine. This means that no hardwood firewood, ash logs, ash seedlings, ash bark and other regulated articles can be moved outside these counties or outside of the state without a certification.
At times, traps can be blown out of the trees. To report a trap that is down, contact the national EAB hotline at 1-866-322-4512 or visit For more information about EAB in Tennessee, contact TDA at 1-800-628-2631 or visit

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