I’m sure several of you have noticed strange funnels or cartons strung around a few trees recently. These are insect traps set up as part of the USDA Agricultural Pest Survey that NBG participates in for the American Public Gardens Association every year. Each trap is unique in that we arm it with specific lures for our target invasive insects. For example, one of our traps aims for the infamous emerald ash borer. These guys have decimated the ash tree population in the U.S.—killing more than 100 million trees. By attaching a lure to the funnel, we entice any local emerald ash borers down into the trap. Bi-weekly, we check these traps to see if any of our suspects are present. If they are, we report it to the APGA that we do indeed have a presence of this target species.
This may seem unimportant to many, but because we are a port city (and considering our proximity to our airport neighbors) the garden is an excellent candidate to monitor for these destructive invasive insects. This information that we are collecting can provide the USDA with valuable details which can be used to extrapolate how far reaching and how established these populations are likely to become. When you take into account variables that are generally out of our hands, like global climate change and complicated trade/shipping practices, it makes for a good line of defense when many public gardens across the country are able to participate in this survey like we are doing.