What Are Those Purple Boxes?

By Matt Markham

July 27, 2011 Updated Jul 27, 2011 at 8:28 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) It's a little bug that could destroy thousands of trees in our forests and towns. The Emerald Ash Borer is spreading, and so is the threat and financial cost it carries.

Purple boxes are sprouting out from trees all over.

"They're not there because the Emerald Ash Borer is around," said Mark Whitmore, Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. "They're there trying to see if it is around."

The Emerald Ash Borer is on its way to killing every ash tree. The goal is to slow its spread, as it has no natural enemies.

It's believed the beetle traveled here on wooden pallets with car parts shipped from China.

Ash is fairly predominant in our state forests and towns.

"Where the rubber hits the road with this insect is the urban setting with homeowners or municipalities with street trees," Whitmore said.

We'll be paying the cost for removing those trees.

"If its not in your neighborhood, you don't need to treat your trees yet, you do need to plan ahead," Whitmore said.

Wagner Lumber Company near Owego is planning around a quarantine for much of its market in Pennsylvania, where it had found 20 percent of its logs.

"That was a large supply of logs that we weren't able to bring to our sawmills," said Tom Gerow, head of procurement for Wagner.

There's still plenty of supply for Red Maple, but that is in jeopardy too, depending on what happens with the Asian Longhorn Beetle."

"They're also more valuable than the ash, which means the economic impact is monstrous," Gerow said.

The USDA estimates the economic impact of the Asian Longhorn beetle to be $600 billion nationwide.

"That's hard to recoup, and that's going to put a lot of people out of business," Gerow said.

Wagner will be managing its forests to contain the spread of the ash borer, and harvest trees before it becomes a threat. You'll likely be seeing more purple boxes trying to do the same.

You cannot move firewood across a distance larger than 50 miles in New York. You can't move it at all from the counties in the quarantine area.

Nearest to us, that includes Ulster and Steuben counties.

If you think you've seen the ash borer on your property, contact the DEC.