As Iowans gear up for summertime camping trips, they’re reminded not to move their firewood along with them as a way to help save trees from a destructive pest. The emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle that’s been steadily creeping across the country since 2002.
Sharon Lucik , a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, says emerald ash borers are now in 14 states and were first found in Iowa last month. “The beetle itself, the adult beetle, does very little damage but it is the larvae that grows and develops under the bark of ash trees,” Lucik says.
“It actually strangles the tree not allowing it to acquire food and nutrients.” In the 1930s, Dutch elm disease destroyed about half of all the elm trees in the U.S. and now ash trees are at risk. Millions of ash trees have been killed since the emerald ash borer, or E-A-B, was first found in the U.S. It’s native to China. Lucik says they haven’t been able to develop an adequate pesticide to kill the E-A-B larva.
“Because they’re under the bark, they’re protected, so sprays don’t work,” Lucik says. “There are some treatments that are injected in the tree but the biggest thing we can do is change our behavior regarding the movement of firewood.” Lucik says Iowa campers should never carry their firewood from place to place as the larvae could be under the tree bark.
“When you’re packing the car up with a canoe and the supplies and the tent, leave the firewood at home,” she says. “Wait until to get to your destination and buy firewood locally.” Lucik says it doesn’t matter if the wood is aged.
She says, “We know that EAB can live at least 12 months in cut firewood depending on the moisture content, so there is still a risk even though it’s cut and split.” The beetle was found in May in far northwest Iowa’s Allamakee County, just a few miles from the Minnesota border. Other states where the borers have been found include: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.