When you travel with logs, you may be bringing pests with you – Chicago Tribune

When your camping trip comes to an end and you have some firewood left, you may be tempted to take it home and use it in the fireplace or backyard fire pit.

“Please don’t do that,” said Spencer Campbell, manager of the plant clinic at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. “Leave the firewood where you have it so you don’t bring destructive tree pests into your neighborhood.”

Firewood transported from one location to another is a major way that new insects and diseases are spread. Eggs and larvae of insects or disease-causing fungal spores and bacteria can lurk in the nooks and crannies of a tree trunk. When you carry logs from one place to another, you take them all with you.

For example, the massively destructive emerald ash borer is believed to have spread across two-thirds of the United States, killing tens of millions of ash trees. The eggs and larvae traveled in firewood along the highway system.

The danger to trees from transported firewood is so great that a coalition of agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has launched a national public service campaign to convey the warning. The website dontmovefirewood.org can advise you on where to find firewood and the rules and regulations in your area.

Insects, larvae, eggs and disease-causing microorganisms are difficult to spot or invisible, so you can’t tell from a glance whether a log contains a problem. It is safest to assume that every log is contaminated, and never move firewood.

“Just one affected tree trunk can be enough to introduce a devastating pest to an entire new area of ​​trees,” Campbell said.

Before leaving a campsite, burn all your firewood or leave it behind. Don’t pack extra logs and take them home. If you are visiting multiple locations, for example in an RV, burn all firewood at each stop and purchase a new batch of local wood at the next campsite.

When purchasing packages of firewood from convenience stores or other outlets, check the label to make sure it has been cut locally.

“Use the firewood at your campsite, or leave it as a gift for the next camper,” says Campbell. “And if you go camping, don’t bring firewood from home. Buy it where you camp.”

Not moving firewood is the most powerful thing homeowners can do to prevent the spread of pests and diseases that can destroy trees. “Enjoy your campfire, but do it responsibly,” Campbell said.

For advice on trees and plants, contact the Plant Clinic at The Morton Arboretum (630-719-2424, mortonarb.org/plant-clinic, or [email protected]). Beth Botts is a writer at the Arboretum.