For a few months now CG and I have been noticing a strange-looking purple box, hanging from a wire tied in a tree, dangling next to the roadside.
At first we were certain some teenage kids had hung it right beside the road just to cause people to scratch their heads and wonder.
On our way back and forth to this job and that, we’d see that deep purple box swinging by the road and for the rest of the day, our minds would be occupied with wondering what those boxes could possibly be for.
I finally came up with the idea that they were probably hung up by some college students conducting an experiment in psychology where they were trying to see if they could get people to focus their attentions on a mysterious purple box, and thereby decrease depression and anxiety in a specific portion of the population.
It’s funny how one purple box could do that.
But then we saw another purple box dangling from a tree beside the road in another location twenty or so miles away.
And then I started seeing them by roadsides in Rocky Mount, in Chesterfield, Rustburg, and Evington.
Okay, something was really going on here. I asked several folks if they’d seen them and if they knew what they were. No one I asked had seen them or knew anything about them.
Were we the only people who saw these big purple boxes swinging beside the road?
We thought they might be birdhouses. But who would put a birdhouse beside a busy road? And we could see no entryway into the “house.”
We were stumped.
So, finally I did what I do when all else fails and no amount of pondering produces a result: I googled it.
My thought was that no result would come back at all. That whoever the prankster was that was hanging purple boxes all over the state was still going largely unnoticed. That people were just too distracted while driving to even look out of their windows.
Of course, I was wrong, as usual. When I googled “purple boxes hanging beside the road” I got a whole slew of results back! Seems like everybody in the state had been asking the same questions and the answer was very, very simple and made me feel quite foolish for all the scenarios I’d conjured up.
The purple boxes are traps for the Emerald Ash Borer, which is a beetle that destroys ash trees. The box is purple because that is the color that attracts the beetles and they are painted with a sticky resin that the beetles will stick to. There were over 5000 of the boxes placed in various locations around the state to try and trap the beetles and to also help define which areas are most affected by the beetles.
I think I enjoyed not knowing what the boxes were for much better. It was a fun mystery and even more interesting to me because I travel a lot and it was like I was following a secret trail.
But, in the end, it was nice to finally find out the origin of the boxes and to know that it wasn’t some secret society placing them around to gather data or wait for tales of space creatures or aliens who had placed the boxes in the trees and if we got out of our cars to look at them, the boxes would suck us up inside and we’d be transported to their waiting spaceship…..the curious creatures that we are.