JEFFERSON CTY, Mo. – For many Missourians, summer means float trips, camping, and spending lots of time outdoors. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages people not to move firewood. Don’t give tree-killing insects and diseases rides to favorite camping locations. Instead, buy firewood at or near the camping destination.
Invasive, tree-killing pests can hitchhike in firewood, moving much farther with campers in a single weekend than they could in years on their own.
“Once in a new location, these pests can start new infestations that destroy forests, decrease property values, and costs lots of money to manage,” said MDC Forest Entomologist Rob Lawrence. “The closest convenient source of firewood to your campsite or bonfire is also the safest source of firewood from a pest perspective.”
Pests that pose the biggest threats to Missouri include: emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and thousand cankers disease of black walnut. Spring and summer are the most popular seasons for transporting these tree-killing pests.
“Most pests are actively emerging from wood during the warm months, and moving firewood—even for just a few short days—can easily spread these invasive pests to new locations,” Lawrence said.
Insects and diseases can be very hard to detect in firewood since they are often concealed under bark. Even seasoned wood that has no obvious signs of bugs, holes, or sawdust can harbor insect eggs or fungal spores capable of starting a new infestation.
Missouri is currently under a statewide quarantine that restricts the movement of hardwood firewood out of the state as well as the importation of hardwood firewood from some states. At this time, firewood is legal to move within the state, but officials strongly recommend not moving firewood more than 50 miles from where it was harvested to reduce the risk of spreading invasive pests. Moving firewood less than 10 miles from its origin is best.