AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive insect first detected in the Midwest a decade ago, continues to quickly spread throughout the US and Canada. Last week, US forestry officials confirmed the tiny, metallic green beetles had been found in the western Massachusetts town of Dalton.
In Maine, entomologists with the Maine Forest Service are wrapping up a massive surveillance effort, inspecting nearly a thousand purple insect traps they placed strategically throughout the state to attract and capture the insect to see if it is already in the area.
"The purple color is slightly attractive to EAB, and then we have a little lure inside of it that has the scent of a stressed tree," explained Maine Forest Service entomologist, Colleen Teerling. "The idea is that if there is an insect around, they will be attracted by the color purple and by the scent of the lures, fly in and be stuck to the glue on the outside of the trap."
So far, none of the traps have captured an emerald ash borer, but news that they have spread into Massachusetts and Connecticut means that it may only be a matter of time.
"It is probably inevitable that at some point in time it will come to Maine, because it is firmly established in the US and it is spreading. It is just a matter of when. Is it going to be next year, or is it going to be 5 years or 10 years down the road?"
"The longer we can delay it coming to Maine, the more management tools we are going to have for options," stated Teerling.
"It is not an automatic, immediate death sentence for every ash tree in the state if we find it. So we do have hope to slow it down, to keep some ash trees alive longer, to contain the spread or at least manage the spreads so that it spreads very slowly as opposed to spreading like wildfire, which it has in the past."