Friday, February 17, 2017

Invasive bugs found in fallen trees three years after a tornado; be careful collecting firewood

Damage caused by ash bark beetles (Forest Service photo)
That firewood you collected from a fallen tree after a storm could be brimming with invasive species. U.S. Forest Service researchers collected firewood from ash, birch, maple, oak and pine logs once a year for three years after a 2011 tornado in Western Massachusetts, and found 38,121 beetles, comprising 42 species. The study was published in the journal Agricultural and Forest Entomology.

Eastern ash bark beetle was by far the most common species, accounting for 85 percent of the total, Holly Ramer reports for The Associated Press. "Nearly 40 states have imposed restrictions on the movement of firewood in an effort to protect forests from the pests. In New Hampshire, out-of-state firewood has been banned since 2011 and in some areas, is not allowed to be moved from county to county."

The Forest Service says of ash bark beetles: "Generally, the favored breeding material is recently cut or broken trees. Living trees weakened by mechanical damage or disease may also be attacked. Entrance, exit, and breathing holes can be found on the outside of infested trees. In July or August, the leaves on branches that have been girdled will turn yellow and then brown as the branch dies."

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