US survey helps shed light on forest-damaging bug

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) ? Triangular, purple kite-like contraptions placed in trees nationwide are helping agriculture officials learn more about a deadly beetle that’s threatening forests.

The 61,500 traps installed in 48 states are part of a survey of the emerald ash borer. The invasive pest has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the United States and Canada.

The 2011 survey shows the tiny, green beetle hasn’t been detected outside of the 15 states that it’s already known to exist, but it has been found in more counties in those states than last year.

Officials say the traps help them figure out how the beetle migrates and also help them raise public awareness about the bug. That’s particularly important this time of year as the insect can be unknowingly transported in firewood.