If you are like me, you may have noticed purple boxes hanging from trees. I had no clue what they were for. So, when I was banding with Tom from http://monarchbfly.com/ (more on that on the next Fieldnote Friday) I asked the man himself. He told me that it was a trap for the Emerald Ash Borer: an invasive pest of which I was aware, but not well versed.
This harmful insect was introduced to North America from Asia sometime in the 90s. It was first reported killing ash trees in Michigan. Since then, its reign of terror has spread to Canada, Minnesota, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, and New York.
The borer larvae feed on the cambium layer between the bark and wood, killing branches and eventually whole trees. One can recognize the borer by its metallic green colour and length, approximately 1.5 centimeters (larger than its native North American counterpart).
The Cosmic Perspective
So many people say, “It’s only one type of tree. What difference does it make?” They underestimate the importance of diversity. It reminds me of the Martin Niemoller’s poem, First they came for…,
Perhaps not a perfect analogy, but the idea remains the same. When one species falls, the probability that a catastrophic epidemic may strike increases greatly. So how can you help? The biggest help you can be is if you don’t bring firewood into any parks. This is amongst the most convenient forms of transport for the borer. Here is a website with more info: http://www.stopthebeetle.info/