Bringing firewood a long distance could be harmful to other trees

The emerald ash borer is an invasive species known to kill trees. They can live in firewood, so it is a good idea to stick with logs that come from a local source to avoid spreading the insects.

Homeowners will be using fireplaces and wood stoves over the next few months, and while these are great ways to stay warm and cut down on the cost of heat, it’s important to know insects could be living inside logs.

“Our main concern here in Northwest Missouri is the emerald ash borer insect,” said Matthew Schwend, a private land forester. “What moving wood does is spread ash borers around to different areas that don’t already have it present.”

While this may sound like a minor issue, the bugs eat the cambium layer of trees, which is the growing part of the trunk. When infested with insects, trees begin to erode and are unable to produce leaf buds.

“There’s something called girdling that is a method of killing a tree without chopping it down,” Schwend said. “That’s why St. Joseph and a lot of other cities around are seeing less ash trees.”

Leaving firewood where it originated is the best way to slow and avoid the spread. The closest source of firewood to your campsite or house is the best option.

Tree-killing insects and diseases can be very hard to detect in firewood since they are often concealed under bark, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. However, wood that has no obvious signs of bugs, holes or sawdust still can harbor eggs capable of starting infestation.

Other common invasive species that can be found in firewood include the Asian longhorn beetle, gypsy moth and sirex woodwasp.

If you plan to burn wood this winter, now is the time to start cutting so the wood has time to season. Maple, oak, birch and most fruit trees will provide a hotter and longer burn and will be cleaner while handling.

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