May 15, 2007

Week to raise awareness of devastating invasive menace

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The very existence of ash trees in North America hangs in the balance - threatened by a tiny green insect invader.

This insect, the emerald ash borer, is spreading throughout the state and country at the hands of people moving ash wood from place to place.

In an effort to slow the spread, Purdue University is teaming up with Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA Forest Service, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to declare May 20-26 Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week. The goal of this week is to raise public awareness about the dangers of emerald ash borer (EAB) and tell what people can do to help alleviate the problem.

"The fact that all of these states and governors are participating indicates the seriousness of the EAB situation," said Jodie Ellis, Purdue Extension EAB specialist. "This is an unprecedented level of cooperation to help control the devastation."

On Saturday (May 19), Purdue will join with three Indiana zoos to sponsor fun and educational events that will kick-off Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week. Activities will take place at the Indianapolis Zoo from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Evansville's Mesker Park Zoo from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and South Bend's Potawatomi Zoo from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Each zoo will feature activities for children of all ages, educational materials and a proclamation signed by Gov. Daniels. Emerald ash borer experts will be at each site to answer questions and teach people how to identify ash trees and the insect pests.

"We will use this time to show people what is at stake," Ellis said. "We're going to mark the ash trees at the zoos so that people can see what may not be there in the future. Once people start to recognize ash trees, they will be shocked at how many there are in their communities. We're also going to set up booths with EAB experts to answer questions, and we will have activities for the kids.

"If we teach the kids at a young age that they have an important role in this, they will hopefully pass that message on to family and friends."

The main message experts will emphasize is to refrain from moving firewood and to obey all ash quarantine regulations.

"While the people of Indiana are doing a great job, we just have to keep emphasizing that people can't move firewood," Ellis said. "In this day and age, there are many invasive and exotic pests that can be moved on firewood - it's just not a good idea to move it. Our forests just can't cope with any more problems."

Currently, 12 Indiana counties have officially confirmed emerald ash borer infestations, including Marion, Randolph, Hamilton, Adams, Huntington, White, Allen, DeKalb, Steuben, LaGrange, St. Joseph and Porter.

Because of these infestations, experts also will utilize awareness week activities to teach homeowners how to determine if ash is present on their property and offer suggestions on how to either protect or remove trees and what non-susceptible species to replace them with.

More information about Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week activities is available online at http://www.entm.purdue.edu/eab .

Writer: Jennifer Stewart, (765) 494-6682, jsstewar@purdue.edu

Source: Jodie Ellis, (765) 494-0822

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
Agriculture News Page

Note to Journalists: On Saturday (May 19), Purdue University will co-sponsor Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week kick-off events at the Indianapolis Zoo, Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville and Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend. Experts will be at all three locations to answer media questions and participate in interviews. There also will be family-oriented activities occurring throughout the day. Admission is free to members of the media.

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