As you make out your list of things to take on your holiday camping trip, don’t put down “firewood.” The U.S.D.A. is trying to warn people of the danger of spreading the emerald ash borer.
Sharon Lucik oversees the emerald ash borer program and says the destructive pest hides in firewood and hitchhikes to new territory.
“When people inadvertently move infested firewood from one place to another, they are spreading the beetle,” Lucik says. “What we’re trying to get people to do, is instead of transporting firewood, we want them to buy firewood at their destination. When they get to their campground, when they get to their destination, buy it then.”
The agency has declared this “Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week.” Lucik admits loading up a few logs to take along for the campfire is a habit that’s tough to break. “We’ve been traveling with firewood for so many years, it’s almost an innate right to take firewood with you when you go camping,” Lucik says.
The emerald ash borer was first discovered in North America in Michigan in 2002.”And since that time, it has been detected in 15 states,” according to Lucik. She says Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois all have infestations. The larvae of the beetle was discovered on an island in the Mississippi River off Allamakee County in May of 2010.
“Even though we have been surveying for the pest in Iowa, we have not found any other sightings of it. So to date, the state only has the one county that is known to have an emerald ash borer infestation,” Lucik says. She says the pest moves very slowly and the best way to stop it from spreading is to not help it along by moving infested firewood.
Officials estimate Iowa has some 88 million ash trees. Many cities have already identified the ash trees and some have cut them down as a preventative measure to keep the ash borer from spreading.