Log in Subscribe
Garden Guru

Watch Your Wood

Jim Boxberger
Posted 11/4/22

Beware your firewood if you didn't cut it yourself nearby. There have been more and more cases of dangerous insects traveling into our area from abroad on or in firewood. There are restrictions in …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Garden Guru

Watch Your Wood


Beware your firewood if you didn't cut it yourself nearby. There have been more and more cases of dangerous insects traveling into our area from abroad on or in firewood. There are restrictions in place that state firewood cannot be transported more than fifty miles from where it was harvested. Unfortunately, many people do not know about these restrictions. 

I have written about spotted lanternflies and emerald ash borers before, but there are other insects like Asian longhorn beetles and spongy moths. The spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive planthopper that was first detected in Pennsylvania in September, 2014 and believed to have arrived as eggs attached to stone in a shipment of stone from Asia. This pest is native to China and has been reported in some other Asian countries. Since its first occurrence in Berks County in Pennsylvania, it has now spread to 13 counties in the state and was also reported in Delaware and New York in November, 2017 and in Virginia in January, 2018. The eggs of the lanternfly are deposited in masses and covered by a waxy substance to protect them. There are four nymph stages in the lanternfly development and both nymphs and adults feed on the phloem(the soft green tissue inside the bark of trees), and excrete large volumes of liquid. Severe feeding damage results in oozing wounds on the trunk, and wilting and death of affected branches and eventually the tree itself. 

Another invader from Asia is the emerald ash borer. Just like its name suggests the emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis, is a destructive wood-boring pest of ash trees. Native to Asia, the emerald ash borer beetle was unknown in North America until its discovery in southeast Michigan in 2002. Just like the lanternfly, emerald ash borer eggs are deposited between bark crevices, flakes, or cracks and hatch about two weeks later. After hatching, larvae chew through the bark to the inner phloem, cambium, and outer xylem where they feed and develop. Emerald ash borers have four larval stages as well. After maturing, adults chew holes from their chamber inside the tree through the bark, which leaves a characteristic D-shaped exit hole. Asian longhorn beetles will tunnel through and destroy a wide variety of trees giving particular attention to maple trees, which if left untreated could eventually threaten the maple syrup industry in the northeast. 

The spongy moth has been the pest widely spread throughout the area. They affect most species of trees, but oak trees are their favorite. The problem with the spongy moth is that they will lay their egg casings on almost anything outside including boats, RV's and trailers, so that you may transport them even when you are not transporting firewood. Spraying insecticides will help if you see you have a problem, but most people will not notice the problem until it is too late. 

This time of year it is a good idea to spray horticultural oil which will help in suffocating eggs layed on the bark so that they will not hatch next spring. This will work well in your yard but unfortunately all the trees in the forests around the northeast will not be sprayed. If you have ever seen those purple boxes hanging in trees along country roads, those are insect collection boxes that the DEC put out to check rural areas for these pests. Being vigilant in looking for these pests is very important whether you are cutting firewood or just out for a hike. So if you see something, say something. You can report any insect sightings to the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Liberty at 845-292-6180.  


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here