There could be an emerald ash borer in your firewood.
Forestry officials hope not in Oklahoma, and they have warned that the best way to stop the spread of the dreaded emerald ash borer, and other beetle-type insects that are a threat to forests.
The bug has not yet infested Oklahoma, but it has been in Missouri and Colorado. The fear is the beetle could make it here, said Jeanetta Cooper, plant protection administrator with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry department.
The emerald ash borer, “could be devastating to our urban landscape trees,” Cooper said. Many ash species of trees line sidewalks and streets, and could be on the beetles' plate. menus. The larvae feeds on the inside of the trees after adults bore holes into the trees and lay eggs.
“You can't see it until you have dead trees,” Cooper said.
Campers who take their own firewood to a campsite often carry the insects and possibly disease to trees.
George Geissler, Okahoma State Forester, said if Oklahomans buy firewood near the location where they will burn it this will help prevent the spread of insects and diseases.
“When people cut and move firewood you are carrying bugs and crud to different areas,” Geissler said.
“It's a problem that people don't think about.”
The emerald ash borer is a green beetle native to Asia and Eastern Russia. Outside its native region, the emerald ash borer is an invasive species, and emerald ash borer infestation is highly destructive to ash trees in its introduced range.
The state is participating in a national campaign called, the “Promise Not to Move Firewood.”
Due to recent drought years in Oklahoma, many trees are more susceptible to fungal diseases and pests, Geissler said.
Insects can't travel far, but when you haul firewood from one location to another, the insects that live inside the firewood are transported, sometimes hundreds of miles, and impact trees in the new location, Geissler said.
The emerald ash borer, an insect that has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees across the nation.
The southern pine beetle is a problem in southeast Oklahoma
Geissler said firewood from an area within a 50 mile radius is best to use and burn. Firewood bought at stores can be transported from other parts of the country. But some hardware stores may have firewood that has been treated like lumber and does not pose a threat.
But Geissler said he has seen campers at state parks from out of state with their own wood.
“It can be a threat to a lot of forests,” Geissler said.
Cooper said forestry officials will be on the lookout for infestations in Oklahoma.