You’d be surprised at what’s lurking in your firewood. It won’t be a pleasant surprise, however, if these hitchhikers turn out to be one of the increasing number of invasive pests that have been assaulting our trees. Most of these insects “sneak” into the country by hiding in the packing material of shipments from foreign countries. Once here, they get a foothold before being discovered. Because they come from other countries, controlling them may be more difficult.
Insect immigrants like gypsy moths like to lay their eggs in any out of the way place. Hiding places include the underside of vehicles, camping gear and firewood. The vehicles, camping gear or firewood is moved to a new place, where the eggs hatch and the insect establishes a new beachhead. Some other hitchhiking alien insects include the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, hemlock woolley adelgid, spring and fall cankerworm, winter moth and a newly identified pest called the spotted lanternfly.
The spotted lanternfly first reached our shores and began its destruction in eastern Pennsylvania. It has now jumped to other states like Maine, and Yates and Albany Counties in New York. While the other insects listed above all attack trees, the spotted lanternfly also likes fruit plants like grapevines, hops and blueberries.
The best way to be sure you don’t contribute to the spread of these insects is to check the underside of your camper and tow vehicle before leaving a campground and scrape off any egg cases. When you get home, carefully check all your camping gear before stowing it away. Don’t bring any firewood home with you, and know where the firewood you buy for your woodstove, fireplace or fire pit originated.
Every state has wood products quarantines. In New York, wood can’t be transported and sold more than 50 miles from where it was cut, except with a permit. Permits are issued only when the transporter can certify that the wood has undergone an accepted process to sanitize it and that it is definitely free of pests.
As with all things, there are always bad apples who think the law doesn’t apply to them, and buyers who fail to realize that, if a deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Don’t contribute to this scourge. Buy wood only from local sellers or those with permits.