“Mysterious” purple traps are part of an effort to defend Vermont from a potentially devastating pest

As part of an effort to protect Vermont from a highly invasive and destructive insect, the Agency of Agriculture and the USDA Department of Animal and Plant Inspection Service are once again hanging purple prism-shaped box traps in trees across the state.
The traps are being set to detect the presence of a metallic green beetle called the Emerald Ash Borer, which has devastated trees in 15 states, but so far has not invaded Vermont. The traps do not attract the beetle, but instead serve as detection tools to determine if this harmful pest is present.
“Vermonters may spot these purple traps hanging from trees throughout the state and wonder what purpose they serve,” said Jon Turmel, Vermont’s chief state entomologist. “We want people to know this is part of an effort to protect Vermont from a potentially devastating pest.”
Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) is an exotic beetle first found in the United States in 2002. Adult beetles cause relatively minimal damage, but the larvae cause devastation to ash trees by feeding on the inner bark and therefore destroying the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients.  To date, the insect has not been found in our state, although it has been identified south of Montreal in Canada, and west of Bennington in Albany County, NY. Emerald Ash Borer is believed to have first entered the U.S. via wood packing materials shipped from Asia.
The purple traps work by attracting Emerald Ash Borers through two different lures that hang inside the prism; one smells like ash leaves and the other like ash bark. The purple color also helps to attract the beetles. The traps are made of corrugated plastic and coated with very sticky, non-toxic glue that captures all sorts of insects. The traps will be monitored throughout the summer and will be removed in the fall.
The purple traps do not pose a threat to humans, pets, or wildlife; however, the glue is extremely sticky. If you find a fallen trap, record the trap number from the tag and call 802-828-4546.

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