Progress in the Parks: Buggy about Bugs

Clint Dalbom
Parks Superintendent

One day this past spring I was in the Neosho Parks Department Office doing weekly paperwork when I received a telephone call. The young man on the other end of the line identified himself as an employee of Missouri Department of Agriculture and was asking if it would be okay if he hung a couple emerald ash borer traps in Morse Park along Hickory Creek. Much of my career with the Missouri Department of Conservation I worked with different insect outbreaks or population surveys of one type or another. Most of the traps that I have dealt with are usually small and mostly inconspicuous, usually going unnoticed by most citizens. Traps like the bright orange Gypsy Moth traps that have been placed around Missouri for many years occasionally draw a few questions, but for the most part they go unnoticed.

An Emerald Ash Borer.

Emerald ash borers have been in Missouri for several years and in places around the state they have wreaked havoc with the native ash trees. Emerald Ash Borer came here from north-east Asia. Trees that are infected will die as the insect basically cuts off the ability of the tree to move food and water up and down the stem of the plant. The most common ash trees in this area are Green Ash that grows here in the lowlands and White Ash that will grow on the uplands. There are 6 types of ash trees in Missouri, and they range statewide.

Different types of Emerald Ash Borer traps.

The Emerald Ash borer lays eggs in the crevasses of the bark, larva tunnels under the bark of the infected ash tree to feed for one to two years, when the adult exits the tree, it leaves a D shaped exit hole. This insect has been moved around the state with the movement of firewood. That is why you will sometimes see bumper stickers saying, “burn it where you cut it”. By using firewood locally and not moving it long distances we can help slow the spread of this damaging insect.

Immediately after the Emerald Ash Borer traps were hung in the park, I started receiving telephone calls. People were asking “what are these strange items hanging in our trees. I had people call them “box kites” and offers to pull them down from the “kite eating trees” in our parks. So, I drove out the trap site and saw this large square thing hanging in the tree. It took me a moment to realize that this was the trap. I though it might be a box kite that some unfortunate young kite flier had lost in the large ash tree near the ballfields. When I realized exactly what it was, the phone calls started to make sense!

These traps are either purple or light green. The green ones like we had are more attractive to the male insect. These traps are baited with a pheromone that attracts the male bug and when he visits the site, sticky areas on the trap catch and holds the insect. The Missouri Department of Agriculture employee then comes around periodically to check the trap to see if any Emerald Ash Borers are present in the sticky substance. Detection is at a high rate even in areas of low infestation. The good news relayed to me today from MDA is that no Emerald Ash Borers were found in Neosho Parks.

Neosho’s Parks are beautiful places, with all our clear cold water, freshly mowed green grass, flower beds, trails, and forests. We encourage everyone to get outside and enjoy our parks. As you do, think about all the effort that goes into protecting our parks and keeping them healthy and safe for everyone to use. Even as far away as Jefferson City, people are concerned for the health of our resources here in the Four States.

Neosho Parks are special!

Clint Dalbom

Neosho Parks Director