By Katie Pratt
Kentuckians may soon notice objects attached to or hanging from trees, and chances are they were put there by someone from the Kentucky Office of the State Entomologist.
The 2013 Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey is designed to detect and, in some cases, eliminate exotic pests. The survey is a cooperative effort between the UK College of Agriculture and state and federal agencies. Each year, thousands of traps targeting several pests and diseases are set out.
"We see these surveys as an integral part of preventing the spread of non-native pests that can cause economic damage to our state," said Carl Harper, senior nursery inspector.
The first traps were set March 4. They will install more throughout the spring.
Insects and diseases they are surveying this year include:
•Emerald ash borer. A native to Asia, the small green metallic beetle was first found in Kentucky in 2009. Several Kentucky counties have the insect, and it can move great distances by the transportation of firewood. About 950 purple prism traps will be placed in ash trees to monitor the spread of the insect in a line roughly from Floyd County to Casey County to Hancock County to the Tennessee border.
•Pine shoot beetle. The pine shoot beetle attacks pine trees, killing the tips of the tree by boring into the stems, which then snap off. It's been discovered in Indiana and Ohio. The traps are a series of black funnels that will hang from a branch or a rope between two trees and will be installed in Northern Kentucky following the Ohio River eastward to Ashland.
•Walnut twig beetle/thousands cankers disease. Thousand cankers disease is the result of the tiny bark beetle that carries a canker producing fungus. As the beetle moves beneath the bark of walnut branches, it creates numerous galleries, resulting in fungal infection and canker formation on the branches. While the beetle is not known to be in Kentucky, it was found in Knoxville, Tenn., in 2010.
•Gypsy moth. The Office of the State Entomologist has surveyed for the gypsy moth for many years, and it has been one of its most successful programs. Infestations have been found three times in the survey in Kentucky and have all been eliminated before they could become established. The pest, one of the most damaging insects to hardwood forests and urban landscapes, is not currently found in the state. Nevertheless, about 4,000 tent-shaped traps will be placed on trees.
Commodity-specific insect surveys will be conducted in Western and Eastern Kentucky thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These surveys target corn, soybean and small grains fields. Inspectors will monitor for a variety of pest insects that haven't been found in the state before. In a similar survey, inspectors will monitor the presence of insect pests at state parks.