by Emily Waldrep
For the past few weeks, large purple boxes can been seen hanging from trees and bushes in various places in Tyler County. Many people have questioned what these boxes are, and some have said that kids playing a prank put them in the trees. But, the truth is that these boxes are doing a very important job. Earlier in the year, the Texas Forest Service started surveying trees across the state to look for the "emerald ash borer," an insect that harms trees.
The Emerald Ash Borer is described as a half-inch long, exotic, wood boring beetle that is metallic green in color. The bug digs into the bark of ash trees and feeds on the material between the wood and the bark, and can quickly kill the entire tree.
The pest has killed millions of trees up north in Michigan, and has been spotted in states as close as Missouri, but has yet to be seen in Texas. These purple boxes are just large, sticky traps that are designed to catch any insects crawling on them. They were placed in March, and will be checked in June and August.
More than 700 traps have been set out in 71 counties in Texas already as part of a cooperative effort between the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Texas Forest Service, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Stephen F. Austin State University College of Forestry and Agriculture and several volunteer citizen scientist groups.