Don't Move Firewood – Prevent the Spread of Pests
Firewood – buy it where you burn it
Although we might not see them, invasive insects that threaten our forests can easily hide in firewood. When firewood moves, so do these pests, potentially threatening our beautiful forests.
Trees are vital to Canada: they provide us with oxygen and shade, absorb carbon dioxide, and are one of our most versatile building materials. They play host to wildlife we enjoy. We all want to ensure future generations get the same enjoyment and benefit. If you use firewood – whether you're an occasional camper who enjoys having a bonfire or you use it to heat your home – help keep our trees around as long as possible, and don't move firewood.
When you need firewood, remember to:
- buy it where you'll burn it
- buy certified heat-treated (kiln-dried) firewood where available
- gather it yourself when regulations permit
- check with parks or campgrounds before you go for their rules about firewood
These four invasive insects have caused large amounts of damage to Canadian forests, and have already been spread primarily by moving firewood.
Emerald ash borer
- Found in: Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
- Eats: Ash trees
- Colour: Emerald green back, bright green underbelly
If you live in Manitoba, Ontario, southern Quebec, New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, you may have already heard of this guy. The emerald ash borer is a highly destructive invasive beetle that attacks and kills all species of ash trees. It was first found in Canada in the summer of 2002. In the short time it has been in North America, it has killed millions of trees in the U.S. and Canada, and is a very serious threat to all species of ash trees throughout their range. For example, in the National Capital Region (Ottawa-Gatineau) there are no un-infested ash trees left!
Asian longhorned beetle
- Under eradication in: Ontario (Mississauga and Toronto)
- Eats: Various deciduous trees
- Colour: Black with 20 irregular white spots
Native to Asia, the Asian longhorned beetle would like to fool us into thinking it is Canadian due to its love of maple, but don't fall for its tricks! It is an invasive species that is a major threat to maple trees in the greater Toronto area. Could you imagine a world without sugar bushes or maple syrup, and a Canadian flag without a maple leaf? We sure don't want to, so let's not let Asian longhorned beetles spread!
Brown spruce longhorn beetle
- Found in: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick
- Eats: Coniferous trees, primarily spruce
- Colour: Mix of light and dark browns
Coming from northern and central Europe, as well as western Siberia, the brown spruce longhorn beetle (BSLB) has been found in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and targets trees in the spruce family. Its larvae feed on the inner bark of spruce trees, primarily concentrated in the lower portion of the tree. If a tree is heavily infested by BSLB over a number of years, it will eventually die. Although it was initially thought to be a very serious threat, research has shown that it spreads relatively slowly by natural means, but it could spread unexpectedly if infested firewood is moved.
European gypsy moth
- Found in: eastern Canada
- Eats: Deciduous trees, primarily oak
- Colour: Females are whitish, males are a dark brown. Both have crescent-shaped marks on their wings
The European gypsy moth is a hungry little bug from Europe that can now be found in eastern Canada. Female moths lay egg masses on tree bark, branches and other places, like piles of firewood. The larvae will eat leaves from their host tree as they grow, starting with small holes and eventually consuming the entire leaf when they reach maturity. A high population of moths and larvae can strip all leaves from a tree, killing it. Help stop their spread by making sure not to move firewood.
Why firewood and not other wood?
Firewood and its bark can be infested with eggs or larvae. If you move firewood, for example from your home to your cottage or campsite, you could unwittingly spread a pest like emerald ash borer to a previously pest-free area.
What about other types of wood?
Moving freshly logged trees can also spread pests. Logging and other industries work closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to use safe movement practices. Wood used in construction, such as 2x4s, is not a risk because it has been treated and had the bark removed before being sold to consumers.
Learn more about rules for moving firewood and how you can prevent the spread of invasive species.
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