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‘Purple’ boxes dot countryside

Farragut area residents have an addition to their pastoral roadsides: purple boxes.

“The purple boxes you have seen are traps for the Emerald Ash Borer or EAB insect,” said district forester Ted Dailey, East Tennessee District in Knoxville. “This invasive exotic insect was found in the Watt Road area last summer. The insect has the potential to eliminate the Ash species in this area.

“The traps are being placed under contract by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. They are trapping a 50-mile area around the site where the insect was discovered.”

Dailey asks that the boxes not be disturbed.

“These traps play an important role in delimiting where this invasive insect is and helps in the control of the spread effort,” Daily added.

According to the USDA, Emerald Ash Borer, Agrilus planipennis, attacks only ash trees. It is believed to have been introduced into Michigan 15-to-20 years ago on wood packing material from Asia. Since then, the destructive insect has been found in numerous states including Tennessee. Typically, the Emerald Ash Borer beetles can kill an ash tree within three years of the initial infestation.

The larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients.

Adults are dark green, one-half inch in length and one-eighth inch wide, and fly only from April until September, depending on the climate of the area.

In Tennessee most EAB adults would fly in May and June. Larvae spend the rest of the year beneath the bark of ash trees. When they emerge as adults, they leave D-shaped holes in the bark about one-eighth inch wide.

TDA officials urge area residents and visitors to help prevent the spread of EAB:

• Don’t transport firewood, even within Tennessee.

• Don’t bring firewood along for camping trips. Buy the wood from a local source.

• Don’t bring wood home.

• Don’t buy or move firewood from outside the state. If someone comes to your door selling firewood, ask them about the source.

Watch for signs of infestation in your ash trees. If you suspect your ash tree could be infected with EAB, refer to the EAB Symptoms Checklist and online EAB Report Form at to alert state plant and forestry officials, or call TDA’s Regulatory Services Division at 800-628-2631.


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