Using intensely-coloured purple and green traps, and pulling them high into a tree’s canopy, is one of the latest tactics being used by scientists attempting to capture more insects in the hunt for invasive species.

Natural Resources Canada is trying out the latest forms of traps in an attempt to snag any invasive species that might spell future problems in New Brunswick’s forests.

Using a long yellow pole, with a slingshot end, biologist Vincent Webster shoots a line over a high tree branch. Then, a line of green inverted cone traps is pulled up.

A whiff of sex

It is one of the latest in almost a decade of early detection strategies that has included black traps, hung with pheromones, that spelled exciting bug sex, and ethanol that imitated distressed trees.

Those traps did not attract many of the jewel beetles, though. That includes the emerald ash borer that is chomping its way through North America’s ash trees but has yet to come to New Brunswick.

“We caught a lot more beetles,” said entomology technician Cory Hughes about the higher, brighter traps, “which in the surveillance programs is a big deal.”

John Sweeney, a research scientist with the group, said it’s important to catch as many different types of beetle as possible.

“The greater diversity you can detect in our traps, the more likely you’ll be able to pick up a species of beetle that may have travelled here in global trade from another country,” he said.

Sweeney and a team of scientists at Fredericton’s Atlantic Forestry Centre spotted, and then helped contain, the brown spruce longhorn beetle in 1999, when it first crawled onto Nova Scotia’s coast, decimating trees.

Sweeney said invasive critters often arrive in wood, which is used to crate many heavy objects from China and Europe.

“Some of those species may get established in Canada forests or North America, and some of them may cause problems,” said Sweeney.

The latest traps have a circle of wrap around LEDs of blue and red, but the results of those traps won’t be known until later this fall.

The perks for beetle-holics

Along with the targeted invasive species comes a ‘by-catch’ of other beetles, some that have never been catalogued. Entomologist Reggie Webster described them and named some of them after his bug-crazed colleagues.

Jon Sweeney now has a beetle named after him; the Proteinus sweeneyithat he laughingly admits is most often found in dung.

Sweeney isn’t alone in having this honour. Cory Hughes has Proteinus hughesi, Vincent Webster has Agaricomorpha vincenti and  field technician Chantelle Alderson has Gyrophaena aldersonae.