The EAB is an invasive species of wood boring beetle native to China and eastern Asia that was first detected in America in July 2002. According to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the EAB, which targets ash trees, is responsible for the death of more than 25 million trees in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, and Illinois.
Sherri Hutchinson, assistant director of the Plant Industries Division of the WVDA, said that Fayette County is the only county in West Virginia where the EAB have been detected so far. A quarantine has been placed on Fayette County, which prohibits moving any firewood, ash logs, or ash timber scraps from that county to any other place in the country.
Hutchinson said he EAB lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. The newly-hatched EAB then build tunnels inside the tree. “They mine back and forth inside the bark,” Hutchinson said, which disrupts the flow of nutrients and sap. “It essentially girdles the tree.”
The purple boxes have been placed in counties in West Virginia, including Hancock, to discover whether the EAB have made their way anywhere else in the state. “It’s just a detection survey at this point,” said Hutchinson, adding that they will not know if the EAB have moved “until we actually find anything.”
Hutchinson said the boxes have a sticky outside surface and a lure on the inside to attract the EAB.
“We’ve got people running all over the state putting out these traps,” said Hutchinson, including officials from the USDA, the National Park Service, the APHIS, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The traps are then checked periodically for the presence of EAB.
“Fayette County is the only West Virginia county where we have found EAB so far. Because it is so far from other infested areas, we believe that EAB hitched a ride with firewood brought in by a camper from out of state,” said Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass in a press release. “Our fear is that other areas of the state could become infested, or that a different pest could be introduced in the same way. Our message is to buy locally produced firewood. And if you inadvertently bring firewood, burn it all; don’t leave it lying on the ground.”
Purple-colored boxes with a sticky surface have been set as traps in Hancock County to detect for the presence of the Emerald Ash Borer. (Photo by Emily Scott)