As the summer travel season begins, the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Natural Resources remind vacationers to leave firewood at home to prevent the spread of invasive tree insects and diseases.
Hauling firewood from one part of the state to another is a common way for these destructive pests to move to new locations, which could be devastating to Michigan’s native trees. The emerald ash borer already has wiped out millions of ash trees across the state. High-impact diseases, including oak wilt and beech bark disease, now are making their way through Michigan – often helped by travelers with trunkloads of wood harboring unseen fungi that can spread to healthy trees in new areas.
“Visual inspection does not always reveal disease or insect damage in wood,” said Gina Alessandri, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division director. “Disease may be in an early stage, and insect larvae can be hidden under bark. The safest choice is to burn firewood at or near the location it was harvested.”
Travelers are encouraged to buy firewood at their destination, burn it all on-site and not take it home or to their next destination. In most public and private campgrounds, firewood is available on the premises or from nearby firewood vendors.
It is a good idea to purchase firewood within a short distance of where it will be used. For ease in finding a local vendor, use www.firewoodscout.org. For day trips that include a cookout, bring charcoal or a cook-stove instead of firewood.
In- and out-of-state quarantines limit movement of regulated wood items to prevent the spread of invasive species and tree diseases. In Michigan, it is illegal to transport hardwood firewood in violation of the MDARD EAB Quarantine.
“It’s recommended that travelers do a little firewood homework before their trip,” said Jason Fleming, chief of the Resource Management Section in the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “Many out-of-state visitors live in areas under quarantine for pests such as thousand cankers disease or Asian longhorned beetle, and it is illegal to move any regulated items (including items such as firewood and wood chips) from quarantined zones out of those states and into Michigan.”
Quarantines for Asian longhorned beetle include areas of New York, Massachusetts and Ohio. The Asian longhorned beetle is not known to be in Michigan, but the public is asked to look for signs of this invasive beetle, including round, 3/8-inch-diameter exit holes in tree trunks or limbs. Asian longhorned beetle larvae feed on a wide variety of tree species including maple, birch, elm, willow, buckeye, horse chestnut and other hardwoods. The damage caused by Asian longhorned beetles ultimately will destroy an infested tree.
Anyone observing an actual beetle or a tree that appears to be damaged is asked to report it. If possible, capture the beetle in a jar, take photos, record the location, and report it as soon as possible through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Asian longhorned beetle website, www.asianlonghornedbeetle.com or contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 or MDAfirstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on the Asian longhorned beetle and other invasive forest insects and tree diseases can be found at www.michigan.gov/invasivespecies. Select the “take action” tab to learn more ways to avoid transporting invasive species during the recreation and travel season.