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Are Emerald Ash Tree Borers Flower Beetles

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  • Peter Bernhardt
    Please look at page 133 of the Science Times Section of the New York Times (9/13/2011) and read the article by Anthony DePalma. Forestry services are catching
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 14, 2011
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      Please look at page 133 of the Science Times Section of the New York Times (9/13/2011) and read the article by Anthony DePalma.  Forestry services are catching emerald ash tree boring beetles with plastic sticky traps but the best results come when the traps are deep purple in color.  The foresters call them Barneys.  Now, this beetle belongs to the family Buprestidae and all of us should know what many adult buprestids do when they feed or mate in Australia.  I have sent the following letter (below) to the Science Times.  Perhaps NAPPC members should volunteer their services.

      To the Editor:

      May I offer another explanation why the emerald tree borer is attracted to those deep purple colored "Barney" traps (9/20/2011)?  It might offer a second technique to control these tree killers.  This insect is a member of the Family, Buprestidae.  Many members of this family feed on pollen and nectar as winged adults.  In Australia, these "jewel" beetles are found in the flowers of eucalyptus, ti trees, honey myrtles and Christmas bushes from late spring through summer.  

      Some beetles that forage on flowers are known for their color biases. In Israel, Dr. Amots Dafni (Haifa U.) found that hairy amphicoma scarabs crawled into red colored cups and children's beach pails as readily as the flowers of wild red tulips, scarlet anemones and poppies.  The same insects visited blue and yellow cups far less often.  In southern Africa, Dr. Peter Goldblatt of the Missouri Botanical Garden and I found that over 80 species of monkey beetles visited dozens of native wildflowers in the iris, daisy, hyacinth and sundew families.  What did such different, unrelated blossoms have in common?  They formed shallow petal bowls, were poorly scented and, most important, they had dark, deeply colored (often dark purple) centers with light, bright petal tips.  

      If Mr Robert Mackenzie wants earlier evidence of the advance of emerald tree borers within the New York City area I'd check out roadside stands of purple asters at this time of year.  Flower beetles use flowers for two reasons.  It's their restaurant and often their preferred mating site (sometimes remaining en copula for hours).  Children and naturalists could help by checking appropriately colored flowers.  Here's a new opportunity to find emerald tree borers as they spread and you could help nip their chances for the next generation... in the bud.

      Peter Bernhardt, PhD
      Dept. of Biology
      St. Louis University
      Saint Louis, MO 
               
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