ARLINGTON, VA - The Nature Conservancy recently kicked off its "Don't Move Firewood" campaign calling on vacationers and campers to be wary of aiding the spread of the emerald ash borer, which has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states.

Nature Conservancy Campaigns Against Spread of Deadly Ash BorerThe group notes that "these invasive tree-killing beetles can spread when moved to new locations in contaminated firewood by vacationing Americans." In addition, the Nature Conservancy said this is a critical time of the year, as this is the beetles' mating season and its spawned larvae kill ash trees by carving shallow tunnels into the bark, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients.

"Because the emerald ash borer larvae feed under the surface of the bark, a visual inspection will often not detect them," said Leigh Greenwood , Don't Move Firewood campaign manager, The Nature Conservancy. "When people take firewood with them on their camping and hiking vacations, they can unknowingly transport these or other damaging pests. It might seem harmless to pack a few pieces of seasoned firewood along with your gear, but it's not. We ask people to leave their firewood at home. Buy firewood where you'll burn it."

The emerald ash borer was first detected in the United States in 2002 in Southeast Michigan. Infestations of the killer bug have since been detected in llinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

It is assumed that the emerald ash borer arrived in North America from Asia as a stowaway in wood packaging, crates and pallets. Because it is non-native to the continent, trees here have not evolved a resistance to its attacks nor does it have any predators to thwart its destructive spread.

The emerald ash borer, Asian long-horned beetle, and many other invasive insects' spread is aided by the movement of firewood. Firewood is implicated in dozens of forest pest infestations found in or near campgrounds, including infestations in Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia. 

"There are an estimated eight billion ash trees of various species in the United States, found in almost every state, all of which are vulnerable because of the spread of the emerald ash borer," said Faith Campbell, senior policy representative at the Conservancy.  "At a policy level, we need stronger regulations in place to help prevent the entry of these types of destructive pests into the country; however, once they are here, regulations and voluntary actions intended to curtail human movement of the pests is one of our greatest hopes for slowing the spread."

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