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Hitchhiking Bugs

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Published on: Mar. 2, 2007

Last revision: Nov. 30, 2010

Conservation and Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies annually conduct surveys to detect new forest pests. Surveyors examine ash trees for evidence of the emerald ash borer at high-risk sites such as public and commercial campgrounds where campers bring in their own firewood. They also check ash trees in urban parks and streets, particularly where large numbers of ash trees have been planted since the mid-1990s. Nursery inspectors examine thousands of trees in Missouri’s commercial nurseries each year.

When harmful non-native plant pests become established in the U.S., the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and state departments of Agriculture are responsible for quarantines and eradication activities.

A federal quarantine is now in place to limit the spread of emerald ash borers. All ash nursery stock, logs and wood with bark attached, and all deciduous firewood is prohibited from being transported out of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan’s Lower Penninsula, unless specific actions are taken to reduce the risk of the borers surviving in the ash material.

Operations to control isolated populations of emerald ash borers have been attempted at the edges of their known distribution. Treatments are expensive and involve cutting down all ash trees within an infested area and chipping them into one-inch pieces to destroy the borers and their food source. No insecticide treatments are 100 percent effective in eradicating an emerald ash borer population. Much research is underway to find better ways to detect and control emerald ash borers.

What You Can Do

Many state and federal agencies are working together to protect our forest resources from these insect invaders, but they need your help. The most effective thing you can do to prevent the arrival of invasive forest pests is to avoid moving firewood long distances. Buying firewood from local sources supports local economies and reduces the threat of introducing new pests.

You can also help by keeping an eye open for new pests. The emerald ash borer has not yet been found in Missouri as of early 2007. But we need to be alert for its arrival. Areas where it is most likely to appear include campgrounds, homes or businesses receiving ash logs or firewood from outside Missouri, and residential or commercial sites where large quantities of ash were planted since the mid-1990s.

All of us working together can help keep the emerald ash borer and other invasive insects out of Missouri as long

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