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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Emerald ash borer traps, not purple kites

OCEAN PINES — While at first glance it might look as if there’s been an epidemic of treed kites, the explanation for the appearance of the small purple bags in area trees signals a different kind of epidemic – one the area fortunately doesn’t have. The bags are traps for catching emerald ash borers and, again fortunately, the traps are as empty as they are meant to be.

Emerald ash borers have become a significant problem all over the state and really the country, but have yet to infest the Delmarva Peninsula’s trees, something Mark Taylor, an entomologist for the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) hopes to keep a permanent condition.

“It’s like an early warning system,” Taylor said of the traps. “We’ve put them up to make sure we don’t have a problem.”

While the preservation of trees is certainly a significant part of the MDA’s devotion to the detection and prevention of emerald ash borer activity locally, there’s an economic component to the resource protection.

Should the beetles be discovered at local nurseries, the area could be quarantined to prevent the emerald ash borers from being further exported.

The emerald ash borer made its way into Maryland after a dealer in the Mid-West filled an order by using a few trees from what was supposed to be a quarantined zone. Since the pests have established themselves in the state, MDA has been trying to prevent their spread with varying amounts of success.

The difficulty is that while they can easily police the various nurseries and big-box retailers of live ash trees, the emerald ash borer also thrives in firewood, a largely unregulated commodity.

Since there’s no way for laymen to tell whether or if a batch of firewood has an infected piece of ash, the MDA, along with its opposite numbers around the country, have been promoting “Burn it where you buy it” an awareness campaign aimed at reducing the possibility of the epidemic spreading even farther.

Taylor said the MDA is also being vigilant about the potential invasion of fire ants, which hide in the tropical plants so many of local businesses import for summer decoration. While they’ve not established any colonies, there have been incidents wherein the MDA had to require places treat against the pests.

The MDA along with the USDA and other state enforcement and inspection agencies, Taylor said, have had success in policing retail sales to the point that he said there is little to no real concern consumers should have in purchasing either ash trees or imported tropicals. Firewood as a vessel for the emerald ash borer, though, remains a priority.

Taylor said local campgrounds have pitched in, not only by posting the appropriate warnings and making educational materials available but also by checking to see that visitors from Western Maryland and Pennsylvania and other states are not carting their own wood into area campgrounds for burning.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has declared May 17-23 to be Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week in Maryland. The emerald ash borer is responsible for the loss of more than 30 million trees in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana where it has become established.

USDA has estimated that losses could reach almost $300 million in the Baltimore area alone if the beetle were left unchecked. Ash is the most common street tree in Baltimore, making up about 10 percent of total trees. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources also estimates that about 20 percent of the state’s streamside trees, vital to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, are ash trees. 

Log onto  HYPERLINK "" to learn more about the emerald ash borer and ways that everyone can help stop its spread. Maryland residents and property owners can call the University of Maryland Home and Garden Information center toll-free at 800-342-2507 or the MDA at 410-841-5920 to report dying ash trees or for help identifying a possible emerald ash borer. 

Anyone can report suspect EAB through the Maryland Home and Garden Information Center’s reporting form