Utica, NY (WIBX) - You may have noticed a few purple triangular tube-like devices high up in, or near potentially diseased Ash Trees throughout Oneida County. They're Emerald Ash Borer Traps, and officials with the Department of Environmental Conservation say they are conducting research to stay ahead of the invasive species that are wreaking havoc on Ash Trees throughout New York State.

Steven Litwhiler, Spokesman for the DEC Watertown Office says they are designed as an early warning system. "To see if we have these invasive insects, these Emerald Ash Borer's in the area," he said. Governor Andrew Cuomo declared this week, Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week, in an effort to raise awareness about the real dangers of losing thousands of Ash Trees to the beetles.

Litwhiler said, "It's important that the people of New York State know about how bad these insects are in addition to knowing what Ash Trees are." He said the DEC is currently leading a campaign to mark Ash Trees along city trees and parks to make people aware about the state's mission to protect its Ash Trees. He added that when the Emerald Ash Borer comes through, it's going to kill a lot of trees.

Litwhiler reminds area residents not to disturb the research underway and says they are not toxic. They have a sticky lining that traps any insects that comes in contact with it, which will be collected and studied by scientists and other environmentalists. The Emerald Ash Borer Traps will be up in selected trees throughout the county starting now, and will be removed at the end of the summer months. He says the research is the first for the county, and may indicate that the beetles are spreading--possibly coming from the Catskill area where researchers have recently found  them.  He said when people relocate fire wood they will rapidly attack any local Ash Trees and kill them. He said in Michigan the beetles are responsible for killing at least 80 million Ash Trees in just a few years.

The Emerald Ash Borer beetles are native to Asia, "They probably came here 20 years ago, probably on packing wood and shipments from Asia. They're so destructive because they don't have any natural controls here in the United States. Where they exist naturally, they would have natural controls and they wouldn't be so destructive, and be allowed to over-populate and destroy the trees like they do here," Litwhiler said. The DEC confirms that the beetles have been found in Cattaraugus, Steuben, Ulster, Monroe, Genesee, Livingston and Greene Counties.

For more information on the Emerald Ash Borer beetle go to, http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7253.html. The site also informs visitors about the negative effects of the EAB, provides tips on how to help stop its invasion in NYS among other useful information, including photos of the insects.