With the crisp fall winds, a cozy, crackling fire sounds like just the thing to keep chills at bay. Just be sure to acquire and burn your wood close to home, whether you purchase a cord now and then or split logs yourself. Emerald ash borers, an invasive species just reaching Wisconsin, have already wiped out millions of trees. Hitchhiking a ride on firewood is the most common way EAB spreads. Unfortunately, the EAB larvae tunnel underneath the bark; since people can’t see the larvae, it’s easy to mistakenly assume wood is safe. Don’t be a vector.
In addition to their beauty, ash trees offer ecological and economic benefits. They
- Produce oxygen and store carbon dioxide;
- Create shade, thus maintaining cold water habitats needed by native fish species
- Prevent erosion and contribute to wetlands;
- Provide raw materials used in flooring, furniture, tool handles, baseball bats, and other secondary wood products.
- A “D-shaped” hole in the bark, measuring an eighth of an inch wide, through which the adult beetle evacuated the tree.
- Unusually high woodpecker activity caused by the additional feeding opportunities posed by the emerald ash borer larvae.
The insects are only 1/4 inch long. If you think you’ve spotted an infested ash tree, contact APHIS, a unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.