COVINGTON, KY (AP) -- Kentucky has set out thousands of traps in an effort to catch the emerald ash borer if the destructive insect crosses the border into the state.
The ash tree-killing bug has been found in Ohio counties to the north of Kentucky, but so far the insects haven't been spotted here.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture provided 3,600 traps to Kentucky and the majority are hanging in trees north of Interstate 64. Some of the purple boxes with sweet-smelling oil are hanging in trees at popular tourist areas such as Land Between the Lakes, Bernheim Arboretum and Mammoth Cave National Park.
"Northern Kentucky is a concern because emerald ash borer has been found so near the border," said Sharon Lucik, a spokeswoman with the USDA. "That area is going to be heavily trapped."
The green beetle, which is no larger than a penny, has been devouring ash trees in the Midwest since 2002. It is blamed for killing millions of trees in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Officials began setting traps in Kentucky last month. Ash trees make up approximately 14.5 percent of the more than 56 million trees in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties.
"It's sort of a variety of people that have specific areas that they're responsible for getting traps out," said Lee Townsend, a University of Kentucky extension entomologist. "Ideally they try to place them in ash trees, but if they can't find an ash tree where they need to put one out, they'll put it in a different type of tree."
The traps pose no health risks to people, pets or wildlife and do not attract emerald ash borers.
Townsend said if any of the insects are found, officials would do surveys in that county to try to find the infestation and stop it from spreading further.
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