A wood-burning stove or fireplace can keep you cozy and warm. But if you aren’t careful where you buy your firewood, that coziness could come at a tremendous cost – the death of your valuable trees.
The fastest way to spread tree insects and diseases is by moving firewood from one place to another. It can be infested with gypsy moth, cankerworms, aphids, winter moth, Asian longhorned beetle, the insidious emerald ash borer and a host of other pests. New York State has taken action by quarantining the moving of all wood products beyond a 50 mile radius of its source without a certificate that guarantees it’s free from pests.
The state can’t do it alone. They need your help, and the best way to help is to not buy imported firewood. After all, the trees you save may be your own. The importers dump their wood and leave. You stack it in the back yard near your trees and it’s just a short distance for the insects to travel to your live, healthy trees, While the firewood will be burned in coming months, your tree can provide multiple generations of insects with plenty of food until the tree dies.
Emerald ash borer is the current scourge that we’re dealing with. In just over 10 years, this pest has spread from a single outbreak in Michigan to multiple outbreaks and has destroyed millions of trees throughout the midwest and northeastern United States, as well as two Canadian provinces. They didn’t spread by themselves. Although the adults can fly, they seldom fly far from the tree in which they hatched and spent their larval lives. They are brought into new areas by unwitting campers and unscrupulous firewood dealers.
If you’re a camper, buy firewood at your destination; don’t take it from our area. When you’re ready to come home, burn all your wood or give it to one of your neighboring campers. Don’t bring it home. Loss of beautiful, majestic ash trees is certainly not worth the saving from bringing home a few sticks of infested firewood.
New York State has a slogan – Buy it where you burn it. That’s good advice for slowing the spread of emerald ash borers. Next week, I’ll tell you how to keep them from attacking your trees or how to treat them if they have already attacked them.