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Greenway traps set for bark beetles

Last weekend, my wife and I took a bike ride to check out the newly completed section of the Greenway near the fairgrounds in Central Point. Near the truck stop where Pine Street crosses overhead, we encountered several odd-looking devices hanging from tall stakes next to the path. They consisted of a series of inverted black cones ending in a white reservoir at the bottom with liquid in it.

Closer examination revealed a tag which warned that we should not disturb these objects as they are part of a government insect study. So the curious would like to know: which government (local, state, federal) and what sort of insects are they studying?

— Dave R., Medford

Well, Dave, for a few hours you had us stumped.

After phone calls to various Jackson County departments, the City of Central Point, the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, and the state’s Department of Agriculture, Department of Forestry and Department of Fish and Wildlife, we couldn't find anybody who knew anything about a government insect study in Central Point or the origin of these “odd-looking devices.”

But our persistence and pestering paid off.

Barry Bai, an entomologist with Oregon Department of Agriculture, was able to identify the devices as “funnel traps,” set by ODA in May or June to capture various species of bark beetles. The traps were removed in October, just three days after you submitted this question.

ODA was monitoring the area for an exotic and invasive species of bark beetle, which hails from Canada.

As insects can often be transported great distances via trucks, this section of the Bear Creek Greenway nearest the truck stop was designated as a “high-risk” area, Bai explained.

“We haven’t found any yet,” Bai said. “But we are still processing some of the specimens.”

Bai said there should have been an ODA tag on each of the traps with a 1-800 number to call with questions or concerns. But then again, that’s why we’re here.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.