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Moving firewood can distribute destructive ash borer

News Release Distributed 08/20/14

BATON ROUGE, LA. – LSU AgCenter entomologists are advising Louisiana residents to avoid moving firewood in an effort to slow the movement of the emerald ash borer.

LSU AgCenter entomologist Tim Schowalter said the insect which is detrimental to ash trees was found in southern Arkansas earlier this month.

“We believe the movement of firewood is the most common way that this insect is distributed,” Schowalter said. “We are asking people to not move firewood from one area to the next because of the potential of moving this insect.”

The emerald ash borer gets its name from its metallic emerald green color and is believed to have entered this country from Asia about 10 years ago through shipping containers, Schowalter said.

AgCenter agents have been asked to be on the lookout for the insect because it is devastating to ash trees.

Schowalter said although ash trees account for only 2-5 percent of hardwoods in Louisiana, it is important because it grows along streams and waterways.

“When you lose a tree like the ash that is concentrated along streams, it affects the condition of the water,” he said. “These trees are extremely important for maintaining stream conditions, such as stream and bayou temperatures that affect crawfish, fish and other organisms that live in the water.”

Ash is also an important urban shade tree, Schowalter said. “The ash has a round crown and is just a beautiful tree.”

The emerald ash borer is found throughout the Midwest and is now in 21 states as far south as Arkansas and Georgia.

“At this point, there is no effective chemical control of the insect,” Schowalter said. “So the only way we have of slowing its movement is by asking those who have moved firewood in the past to stop the practice.”

Landowners and residents with ash trees on their property are asked to contact their local AgCenter agent if they believe the insect is in their trees.

“One of the telltale signs of the presence of the insect is its very distinctive ‘D’–shaped exit holes,” Schowalter said.

First and foremost, firewood should not be moved out of the states where the insect is present, but he said it’s not a good idea to move firewood, period.

“If you will need firewood for your camp, wait until you get to the camp area and acquire your wood there,” Schowalter said. “True, it may add a little more expense. But when dealing with a destructive insect like the emerald ash borer, it’s well worth it.”

Johnny Morgan

Last Updated: 8/20/2014 2:32:49 PM

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