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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Keep the bugs out!

Keep the Bugs Out: Buy and Burn Local Wood

Asian Long-horned beetle
By News staff

Tree-eating, non-native insects can be transported in firewood, with the potential to cause damage costing millions of dollars in clean-up, eradication and replanting efforts, according to the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

In fact, the issue of invasive species is one of the U.S. Forest Service’s top four threats. The financial impact from invasive species infestations in the United States has been estimated at $138 billion annually in total economic damages and associated control costs.

Sirex woodwasp
There are many species of insects and diseases that can be spread through the movement of firewood, including Asian longhorned beetles, emerald ash borers and Sirex woodwasps — none of which are currently found in Rhode Island.

Emerald ash borers, first detected in North America near Detroit in 2002, has since killed more than 25 million ash trees in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia. More than 75 percent of emerald ash borer infestation sites with known origins resulted from firewood movement, according to DEM officials.

Emerald ash borer
They say it is imperative to prevent the spread of these insects to Rhode Island, or detect them early enough so that they can be dealt with before they become a major problem.

To address these concerns, DEM’s Division of Agriculture held a “Train the Trainer” session on July 11 at the University of Rhode Island’s East Farm in Kingston to teach the signs and symptoms and how to survey for the Asian longhorned beetle and the emerald ash borer. 

Trained volunteers will have the opportunity to assist DEM in conducting tree surveys in August to scan high-risk areas for pests. The surveys will take place Aug. 7 at Burlingame State Campground, Aug. 9 at Lincoln Woods State Park and Aug. 21 at George Washington Campground.

DEM also will conduct an outreach and informational session on invasive forest pests Monday, July 23, from 6-8 p.m. at the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in Harrisville.

This session is geared toward homeowners, farmers and others interested in learning about the signs and symptoms of the Asian longhorned beetle and will feature a video presentation and discussion. Space is limited and registration is required by July 22 by contacting Cynthia Kwolek.

Rhode Islanders should be aware that they can carry local infestations of gypsy moth eggs and hemlock woolly adelgid in their own firewood, and should not transport it elsewhere. When potentially infested firewood is moved, any pests that emerge can seriously threaten the trees in the new community. You cannot tell just by looking at it whether or not a log is infested. Insects and diseases can be in or underneath the bark of infested logs, as well as on it, according to DEM officials.