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Parks Department expands beetle trap program against elm disease

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  June 14, 2013 02:30 PM

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The Boston Parks and Recreation Department is expanding its beetle trap program designed to protect the city’s elms from elm bark beetles and Dutch elm disease.

The 18.5"x 28" green plywood traps are being mounted on 24 trees to monitor elm bark beetles, which can damage trees and spread Dutch elm disease.

The traps, which hang about 15 feet off the ground on trees located at least 150 feet away from any elms, are lined with sticky paper infused with a pheromone lure to attract the insects.

The traps do not contain pesticides or harmful chemicals, the Parks Department said.

The traps will allow scientists to monitor the insects and collect data that will allow them to identify the species of elm bark beetle attacking the elm trees; better understand their life cycle, emergence, and breeding patterns; keep track of the existing population; and disrupt their normal breeding behavior.

The information will also help arborists form a more effective Dutch elm disease program and optimize future pest control, according to the Parks Department.

Elm bark beetles damage trees when their larvae build galleries beneath the bark, and adults moving from tree to tree can carry Dutch elm disease spores with them, a disease that wilts and kills elms.

The city began its beetle trap program last spring with 12 experimental traps in the Emerald Necklace.

This year, there six traps on Boston Common, five in the Public Garden, five in the Fenway Victory Garden, five on side streets along Commonwealth Avenue Mall, two along the Muddy River, and one in Copley Square.

The traps will be in place until early October.

E-mail Kaiser at Johanna.yourtown@gmail.com. For more news about your city, town, neighborhood, or campus, visit boston.com’s Your Town homepage.

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