Don’t Move Firewood! The Spread of Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an exotic beetle originating from Asia. The beetle made its way to the U.S. in 2012 likely on solid wood packing crates shipped on cargo ships or planes. The beetle feeds on the leaves of ash trees and lays eggs on the bark. After hatching, the young immature larvae bores into the trunk of the tree feeding on its vascular tissue. This feeding interrupts the movement of nutrients and water throughout the tree. After several years of feeding, the ash tree will die.

Since 2012, EAB has spread to 29 states and into Canada, killing hundreds of millions of ash trees. The adult beetle can fly several miles to find a new tree to feed on but given the spread in such a short amount of time, the beetle has had help!

The larvae spends all winter inside the wood of the tree. If the tree is cut, then transported, the beetle emerges in a new location moving further and faster than it typically could through flight. Commonly when we are camping or recreating outside, it is our inclination to take firewood we have at our homes rather than purchase it. In an attempt to try to slow the spread of EAB, many counties and/or entire states have enacted federal quarantines. The quarantine restricts the movement of ash wood outside the area. This could be in the form of firewood, young ash trees from the nursery, wood waste, or large wood chips. In Kansas, the quarantine includes 7 counties adjacent to the Kansas City metropolitan area (Atchinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Jefferson, Johnson, Levenworth, and Wyandotte). In Missouri, the quarantine is statewide. Wood can be moved between quarantined counties but not into areas outside the quarantine, such as western Kansas.

A good rule of thumb is to buy it where you burn it and never move firewood more than 50 miles from its point of origin. Be aware EAB is not the only pest that can hitch a ride. The next time you are packing up for a little outdoor fun, leave the firewood at home!

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