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USDA Cautions That Moving Firewood Can Move Tree-Killing Invasive Insect Pests
WASHINGTON, July 8, 2010 – The firewood used during camping, bonfires and cooking out is considered as important an ingredient for summertime fun as sunscreen and bug spray. But, before heading to the great outdoors, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would like to remind people of the dangers of moving firewood. Firewood presents a very real threat to the nation’s forests and community trees because of the tree-killing hitchhikers that may travel along. When enjoying the outdoors, please buy your firewood where you burn it. Don’t bring it with you.
Invasive insect pests like the emerald ash borer (EAB), Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and gypsy moth can be spread to new areas by people transporting their firewood. These insects are attacking and killing trees in the United States. Loss of tree resources because of these invasive pests can damage healthy ecosystems, impact quality of life and affect industries such as lumber and timber production.
The emerald ash borer is an invasive wood boring beetle that targets ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) and all the ash species – including green, white, black and blue – are at risk. EAB kills stressed and healthy trees and is so aggressive that ash trees may die within two or three years after they become infested. EAB larvae tunnel under the bark to feed in the phloem and outer sapwood, causing damage that eventually girdles and kills the tree. It was first detected in 2002 in southeastern Michigan.
Today, in addition to Michigan, there are known EAB infestations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The ALB is an invasive insect that feeds on healthy maple trees, as well as ash, birch, elm, European mountain ash, hackberry, horsechestnut, katsura, London plane tree, mimosa, poplar and willow. The adult beetle lays its eggs just under tree bark. By the late summer and fall, the caterpillar-like larva tunnels deep into the tree. The following summer, the ALB chews its way out of the tree as an adult beetle. ALBs tunnel and bore through tissues that carry water and nutrients throughout the tree, eventually starving and killing the tree. The ALB can grow and develop in cut firewood. Since it was first discovered in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1996, the beetle has caused the destruction of over 69,000 hardwood trees in the United States alone.
The leaf-eating gypsy moth caterpillars devour the leaves of many hardwood trees and shrubs. Gypsy moth larvae can kill trees and damage local ecosystems. Studies show that most new, isolated infestations of the gypsy moth were started from egg masses transported on outdoor household articles or firewood accessible to the female moth at egg-laying time.
There are some simple things that can be done to avoid moving such pests while enjoying an outdoor fire.
For more information on firewood movement and invasive pests please visit www.aphis.usda.gov and click on Invasive Species under “Hot Issues.”
Note to Reporters: USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet and through Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. Go to the APHIS news release page at www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom and click on the RSS feed link. To receive APHIS releases automatically, send an e-mail message to email@example.com and leave the subject blank. In the message, type subscribe press_releases.
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