The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic-green beetle native to Asia. Its larvae burrow into the bark of ash trees, causing the trees to starve and die. Since the first detection of the pest near Detroit in 2002, it has killed an estimated 250 million ash trees.
The emerald ash borer continues to move across Illinois, devastating ash trees in its path.
It was most recently found in Peoria and Tazewell counties. Rhonda Ferree, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, said an effective way to stop the beetles is to not move firewood.
“While enjoying campfires and wiener roasts this fall, take a moment to be sure the firewood you use is pest-free,” Ferree said.
Cutting a tree into firewood does not kill beetles developing inside of it, said Martha Smith, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. Adult beetles can still emerge, infesting healthy trees when they do. Often, when discovered, the beetles have been there for several years and ash trees are dying.
“Humans can unknowingly transport emerald ash borers hundreds of miles in firewood. That’s why it is so important to make sure your wood is from local sources and to burn it where you buy it,” Smith said.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture recommends you do not carry any unused firewood with you to your next destination. Don’t carry it across county or state lines. The best approach is to not move firewood from your property, and definitely don’t move wood out of quarantine areas. At many parks and campgrounds, firewood is sold on site. In fact, some state parks will not even allow people to supply their own firewood. As an extra precaution, crews are regularly sent out to collect any remaining firewood and burn it.
“When purchasing any firewood, always ask about its origins,” Smith said. “Ask if it is from a local source. Once cut, it is difficult to tell what kind of wood it is; therefore movement of all hardwood firewood, including ash, oak, maple and hickory, is regulated. Try not to keep firewood stored at home.
“Before the onset of spring, be sure to burn your remaining supply of firewood to eliminate the chance of spreading any larvae. Take the oath and promise not to move firewood.”
For more information, visit www.stopthebeetle.info.
For information on EAB in Illinois, visit www.agr.state.il.us/eab/index.php.