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Environment & Energy

Firewood Quarantine in Effect to Stop Spread of Insects, Disease to Trees

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Thanks to the presence of disease and tree-killing insects such as the emerald ash borer, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is reminding residents of the firewood quarantine in place.

People are asked to not move firewood more than 50 miles from its origin, and wood products cannot be moved out of Bucks County at all because of thousand cankers disease.

“Any firewood coming into the commonwealth has to be inspected or certified, which means it’s been treated," said Donald Eggen, chief of the forest pest management division for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "That’s to limit the movement of pests that are in firewood into Pennsylvania,”

The emerald ash borer is now in 34 Pennsylvania counties. The invasive insect can kill an ash tree within three years of initial infestation. In addition, thousand cankers disease, which was discovered in Bucks County in 2011, poses a threat to trees.

According to the DCNR, spreading insects and disease is not hard to do.

“It’s actually been the movement of firewood, you know ‘Oh my tree out front died, I’ll cut it down and cut it up for firewood; I’ll take it camping with me … Oh I didn’t use it all, I’ll leave it for the next guy,’ well guess what, meantime there’s a beetle in there that develops, comes out and infests a new area,” Eggen said.

Right now, one of the concerns of the DCNR is the northern tier counties along the Pennsylvania/New York border. That region has a large population of ash trees.

“We have not yet detected it (emerald ash borer) in the northern tier but it’s in the tier right below it,” Eggen said. “So we are actively putting out traps to detect it, and we want to find good locations to do some management and also the parasite releases in those locations.”

The release of parasitoids has been an ongoing effort for the last several years.

“They are very small wasps," Eggen said. "One of them focuses in on the egg. It parasitizes the egg when the adult female comes and lays eggs on the bark. This wasp can find those eggs and parasitize them, and then also there’s two parasites that attack the larvae just below the bark’s surface.”

Agencies are also working with individual communities on control plans.