Today’s Topic: Buying firewood locally can help prevent spread of plant pests

By on December 15, 2015

Todays-Topic

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

Even though recent warm weather would indicate otherwise, it is firewood season in North Carolina. As winter approaches, it’s important to consider buying local firewood because it helps to prevent the spread of three major invasive insect species that have found their way to North Carolina in recent years: emerald ash borer, walnut twig beetle and the redbay ambrosia beetle.

The emerald ash borer is originally from Asia, and it has been in the U.S. for more than a dozen years. EAB poses a risk to all four ash trees native to North Carolina: pumpkin, Carolina, green and white. It was first detected in North Carolina in 2013, but earlier this year, the department expanded its quarantine for the pest to the entire state because EAB had spread so quickly.

The walnut twig beetle carries a fungus that can cause thousand cankers disease in black walnut trees. It was found in Haywood County in 2012.

The third pest, the redbay ambrosia beetle, carries a fungus that can cause laurel wilt in redbay and swampbay trees, as well as spice-bush, sassafras, pond-spice and pond-berry. It was first detected in North Carolina’s Coastal Plain in 2011.

These insects can be spread in loads of wood, so the Plant Industry and Forest Service staffs advise using firewood local to the area, rather than bringing it in from somewhere else.

If you see evidence of damage from any of these insects, contact your county forest ranger. It’s important that we know if these pests are on the move in our state. For more information, click here.

To hear Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss the importance of buying local firewood, click on the audio player below.

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