Ditch the Invasive Hitchhikers

Published on: Jul. 1, 2008

Camping and boating travelers beware! You could be bringing some nasty hitchhikers into the state in your firewood or on your boat. The emerald ash borer and the zebra mussel are two creatures that will wreak havoc once they get a solid foothold in Missouri. Sometimes it seems like problems in nature are just too big to fix, but in these cases there really are things you can do to help protect our trees and our waters before it’s too late.

Emerald Ash BorerEmerald Ash Borers (EABs) are a type of beetle from Asia that first appeared in Michigan in 2002. Since then they have spread to several states. More than 50 million ash trees have already been killed by EABs. All North American ash trees are susceptible, so this beetle could eventually kill of most of our ash trees.

A federal quarantine prohibits moving firewood from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana into Missouri or other states. What you can do to help stop the emerald borer is use only local firewood. If you already brought some in from elsewhere, burn it quickly to kill the insects in it.

In the case of zebra mussels, once they start multiplying in an area, they’re almost impossible to eradicate. They’ll clog water intakes, disrupt aquatic life and cost a lot to address the many problems they cause. The good thing is that you can avoid carrying these (whether they’re full-sized adults or the small larval form) by inspecting your boat, being sure to clean it off, drain water from the motor, boat, livewells, etc., and thoroughly dry it in the sun before you put it on another body of water. Zebra mussels EABs have been found in the Lake of the Ozarks, Lake Taneycomo and in the Arkansas part of Bull Shoals Lake, so it’s especially important to avoid spreading them within the state to other bodies of water.

It’s easy to forget they’re lurking about, but ditching those hitchhikers is something you can do to keep Missouri’s woods and waters healthy.

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