HItchhiking Bugs

By: Anthony C. Arnoldi, Board Certified Master Arborist WI-0102B

Winter 2006 Newsletter in Adobe PDF format Biological hitchhikers can travel a long way. These hitchhikers can attach themselves to vehicles, plant material and firewood. Emerald ash borer, gypsy moth and oak wilt infestations have been traced to the movement of firewood.

Biological hitchhikers that travel along unintentionally can cause problems without us even being aware of them. Insect and disease organisms can be spread rapidly and over long distances. This spreads infestations or diseases much more rapidly through man-made means than would occur naturally.

These hitchhikers can attach themselves to vehicles, plant material and even firewood. Emerald ash borer, gypsy moth and oak wilt infections outside their known range have been traced to the movement of firewood. Millions of ash trees have been lost in Michigan from emerald ash borer that was spread mainly via people moving firewood. Only a small amount of wood is needed to initiate a new introduction. That’s why it’s so important not to move firewood from one area to another. You could be introducing these exotic pests into an area that doesn’t already have them. Vehicles can—and are—being inspected to stop the movement of firewood into certain areas of Wisconsin.

If you are going camping and hoping to sit back and watch the dancing flames of a campfire while you relax, or stocking up the firewood at the cabin, take the following precautions to help prevent hitchhikers and spreading problems:

  • Buy your firewood once you’ve reached your destination.
  • Do not take wood back home with you.
  • Burn wood on-site. Do not move it along with you to other areas.
  • Burn any and all wood that may have been brought along by mistake.
  • Purchase and take along manufactured logs, e.g., ‘Duraflame.’

Moving firewood with damaging hitchhikers can lead to loss of trees and great expense. Please do your part and follow the suggestions above to help keep our trees and forests from being exposed to dangerous hitchhikers.

© Copyright 2006 – Wachtel Tree Science & Service, Inc.

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