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Purple Boxes Explained

June 4, 2012

You may have seen purple boxes that look like box kites hanging in trees around New Hampshire.  One recently appeared at the Smart’s Brook trail head off Rt. 49 as you go into Waterville Valley.

The purple prism traps are being hung in New Hampshire ash trees in an effort to detect emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive insect.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the state of New Hampshire’s Department of Agriculture have partnered with a natural resources company to survey for the EAB (Agrilus planipennis), a non-native wood-boring beetle that has attacked and destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in the Midwest.  The metallic, green beetle is native to Asia and is thought to have entered the U.S. through wood packing materials.

As of 2011, the borer has not been detected in New Hampshire, but has been found south of Montreal and in Albany County, NY.  Scientists say that early detection is critical to managing and controlling these invasive pests.

The purple traps don’t lure the EAB into an area, but are used as detection tools to determine if they are currently present in an area.  The traps are made of corrugated plastic and coated with very sticky, non-toxic glue designed to capture all sorts of insects.  The trap attracts EAB through two different lures that hang inside the prism.  One smells like ash leaves.  The other smells like ash bark.  EABs are also attracted to the trap’s purple color.

The traps will be monitored throughout the summer and removed in the fall.

The purple traps do not pose a threat to humans, pets or wildlife; however, the glue is extremely sticky.  If you find a fallen trap, record the trap number from the tag and call 603-271-2561 or 802-828-4546. After regular business hours, leave your name and number along with the trap number and someone will return your call the next business day.

For more information about emerald ash borer or the survey program, contact the N.H. Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, Division of Plant Industry, at 603-271-2561 or visit online

About Jan Stearns

I've been living in and loving New Hampshire's White Mountains for most of my life. I moved to Waterville Valley in 1981 and quickly realized why it was dubbed a Yankee Shangri-la. Once you’ve experienced Waterville Valley, you’ll want to call it yours. The great team of Realtors at Waterville Valley Realty can help you find a Waterville Valley home that fits your lifestyle and budget.

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