Beware: It's Emerald Ash Borer weekWASHINGTON, DC —

Emerald Ash Borer Beetle Awareness Week runs from May 22 to 28, 2011, and the public is being asked to join in the fight against the small but deadly predator.

Federal and state agencies are fighting to protect the nation's ash trees from the EAB, a destructive beetle that has killed tens of millions of trees and spread to 15 states and two Canadian provinces since it was first detected in Michigan in 2002. The EAB attacks all species of North American ash trees.

Ash trees are an extremely important domestic resource and the lumber can be used to make furniture, tools and sports equipment. The EAB's damage is caused by larvae, which eat the wood under the bark, starving the tree of water and nutrients, slowly killing the tree over one to two years. Typically, the EAB does not travel far on its own but instead becomes a hitchhiker catching rides in cut wood. The USDA and other officials believe most of the spread of the EAB can be traced to people moving the wood across county and state lines.

States around the country are joining in the fight, airing commercials on television and radio, urging residents and visitors to be careful about moving potentially infested wood. The USDA's ongoing Stop the Beetle campaign also encourages the use of kiln-dried firewood.  Another tool in the EAB-fighting arsenal is the purple trap, a device being set across the country by the USDA and its state partners to monitor for the presence of the EAB. The beetles are attracted to the purple color and the scented lure used to bait the traps, which are harmless to people and pets.

The wood-boring beetle, native to China and eastern Asia, likely arrived in North America in wooden shipping crates. They were first detected in July 2002 in southeastern Michigan and neighboring Windsor, ON, Canada. In addition to Michigan, the beetle is attacking ash trees in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Typically, the Emerald Ash Borer beetles will kill an ash tree within three years of the initial infestation. Pennsylvania says its hardwood industry totals $25 billion annually.

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