Fall camping season is fast approaching, and Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources are reminding campers and other Hoosiers that transporting firewood can be dangerous to Indiana's forests.
Movement of firewood has caused several close calls in Indiana in recent months.
In August, live emerald ash borer larvae were found in firewood at Pokagon State Park by U.S. Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service officers. Pokagon State Park is located within a quarantined area in Steuben County.
"Officers found larvae in firewood at one campsite and found ash firewood that originated in quarantined counties outside the state at three other campsites," said Bob Waltz, Indiana state entomologist. "If this firewood had been left behind, EAB could have infested trees in the state park."
Jodie Ellis, the exotic insects education coordinator at Purdue said, "This does not mean that Pokagon's ash trees are infested, but it does demonstrate how easily people can move potentially dangerous firewood to uninfested sites."
The Pokagon find isn't the only instance of infested firewood being transported out of
quarantined areas. In July, a homeowner in Lake County moved firewood from a quarantined county in Michigan to his new home in Indiana. A $2,500 stipulation was given to that homeowner. The stipulation is part of a proposed agreement between the USDA and the homeowner.
"Fortunately, a vigilant citizen alerted the Michigan Department of Agriculture, and the firewood was intercepted before the adult pests could emerge and begin breeding," Waltz said.
Ash trees in the area are still under surveillance by USDA-APHIS and the DNR.
In another case, a firewood company in Steuben County is under investigation by the USDA for moving infested firewood out of a quarantined area.
Ellis said the Lake County case and the investigations in Steuben County show how seriously USDA-APHIS and the DNR are taking quarantine infractions.
The government agencies are taking the eradication of this pest very seriously because of what's at risk, said Cliff Sadof, a Purdue Extension entomologist who's researching native predators of emerald ash borer.
"This isn't like moving Japanese beetles or gypsy moths, which defoliate trees," Sadof said. "Once this insect gets there, the ash trees will die."
"EAB threatens to remove ash trees as a species from North America," Ellis said. "Not many insects, or for that matter, many invasive species in general, have that kind of power."
Indiana citizens can help stop the spread of emerald ash borer by not moving firewood and by watching for people who may be moving firewood out of quarantined areas. Information about the quarantines is available on the DNR's Web site at www.in.gov/dnr/entomolo/pestinfo/ashborer.htm.
"It's also important that homeowners keep an eye out for signs of EAB," Ellis said. "Fall is a good time to look for EAB because leaves are starting to come off the trees, and it's easier to see the holes they leave behind in the trunks and branches when they chew their way out of the trees."
It's difficult to diagnose the emerald ash borer damage because of the prevalence of other ash-boring pests in Indiana. One of the main ways to distinguish the emerald ash borer from native species is D-shaped exit holes in the main trunk and branches left behind by emerging adults.
Other symptoms include leaf dieback in the top third of ash trees, vertical splits in the bark and increased woodpecker activity.
Residents who see evidence of emerald ash borer should contact Ellis at (888) EXT-INFO or the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Invasive Species Hotline at (866) NO-EXOTIC.
The adult emerald ash borer is slender and a bright, metallic, coppery-green color. It is about one-third inch long, making it difficult to spot in tree leaves. The larval, or immature, form of the pest destroys live ash trees by eating the vascular tissue that supplies nutrients to the tree. The tree starves to death within three years after the attack of the pest.
Related Web sites:
Purdue EAB page:
DNR Emerald Ash Borer site: