Firewood from outside your area may harbor destructive pests

December 23rd, 2010

Firewood from outside your area may harbor destructive pests

There’s nothing like a fire blazing in the fireplace on a cold winter evening. The beauty, the warmth … the insects waiting to damage or destroy trees in your lovely landscaped yard and your favorite park.

To avoid that last one, The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee says don’t buy firewood from outside the area where you live. A variety of insects and other pests infesting and devastating trees in other areas could be brought into your community.

More than 50 miles away is far enough to be a danger.

“Here in Tennessee, it is incredibly important to the health of our forests and economy that people know moving firewood is dangerous and, in certain areas, illegal,” Alex Wyss said in a Conservancy e-mail warning.

The Don’t Move Firewood campaign conducted a poll recently showing that fewer people are moving firewood, but still around 1 in 20 Americans admits carrying wood past the limits.

Most tree-killing pests can’t get far on their own, but when people bring in firewood that harbors them, that allows the pests to expand their range.

Past invaders have destroyed native species of American chestnut, hemlock and American elm trees.

The emerald ash borer, a beetle that has killed thousands of ash trees in other states, and a fungus called thousand cankers disease, which kills black walnut trees, were found in Tennessee this year, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

These scourges have been brought in to new territory on firewood in several places around the country. To combat that, Tennessee is prohibiting the movement of firewood from some areas.

The removal of firewood of any hardwood tree species from five quarantined counties — Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon and Union — is prohibited.

Firewood can be moved around inside counties that buffer these areas but can’t be hauled out of them.

Buy from local source

If you have already brought in firewood that could be infested, it should be burned immediately and completely. Rake the storage area carefully and burn the debris to get rid of any pest there.

In the future, buy only from a local source.

One more thing to consider if you want to have that warm, peaceful scene around the fireplace on Christmas Eve — different types of wood burn differently.

Oak burns slower and produces less smoke, for instance, while pine burns faster and produces more soot and smoke.

A chart with more information about types of firewood is available at

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