UNIONVILLE, Mo. -- Missouri's northern borders continue to be on the front lines of stopping the spread of invasive tree pests. In early June, the emerald ash borer (EAB) was found in Davis County, Iowa, near the town of Bloomfield, which is less than 20 miles from the Missouri border. EAB, which kills ash trees with its tunneling under bark, has been found in 24 counties in Iowa and 11 counties, plus the City of St. Louis, in Missouri. Many invasive forest pests threaten to enter Missouri and cause serious damage to our forests and ornamental trees.
"Unfortunately, EAB is only one of many invasive, non-native pests that threaten Missouri's trees," MDC Forest Entomologist Rob Lawrence said. " Another threat is thousand cankers disease (TCD) of black walnut."
TCD has caused widespread death of walnut trees in many western states and has been detected in seven eastern states. Fungal cankers (infections) develop in branches around the tunnels and feeding sites of tiny walnut twig beetles, causing tree dieback and eventual death after several years. While TCD has not been detected in Missouri, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) estimates if the disease is introduced, the economic loss could be $851 million over 20 years.
The gypsy moth, whose caterpillar voraciously feeds on the leaves of oaks and over 250 other trees and shrubs, has been slowly moving across the eastern U.S. and has become established in northeastern Iowa and northern Illinois. The pine shoot beetle, which tunnels inside of new shoots of pines, has been found in five counties in northeastern Missouri.
There are many places in northern Missouri that are destinations for outdoor recreation, such as Union Ridge Conservation Area and Thousand Hills State Park, and many people enjoy having a campfire or use wood to heat their homes. However, bringing firewood from long distances may also bring unwanted pests that can seriously damage the natural resources we enjoy.
"One thing that all of these forest pests have in common is how easily they can move to new places via the movement of firewood," said Lawrence. "Various stages of these pests are hidden on or under bark. The best way to avoid introducing these pests to new areas is to obtain and burn firewood locally."
MDC urges everyone to get firewood locally near where you will burn it. Moving firewood less than 10 miles from its origin is best. For more information about hitchhiking forest pests and firewood, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/29750 and dontmovefirewood.org.