WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Winter weather has settled upon Indiana, and to curb high heating costs many Hoosiers are looking to firewood. One Purdue University entomologist reminds consumers to educate themselves to avoid unsuspectingly moving invasive species in firewood.
"As many Hoosiers know, moving firewood can inadvertently spread invasive insects, including the devastating emerald ash borer," Jodie Ellis said. "To mitigate some of those risks, consumers should keep a few things in mind when they purchase firewood."
Ellis said consumers should remember:
* Firewood should be purchased near where it will be burned. Ideally the wood needs to have been cut within 10 miles of where it will be burned.
* Aged or seasoned firewood is good, but still not completely safe. Some invasive species other than emerald ash borer (EAB) can live in dry wood.
* Even wood that looks clean and healthy can contain insect eggs or fungi spores that can start new and deadly infestations.
In addition to common-sense practices to prevent the spread of invasive species, consumers need to be aware that Indiana has firewood quarantines in the 31 counties with emerald ash borer infestations. This means no firewood can leave those counties without a signed compliance agreement from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Those counties include Adams, Allen, Blackford, Brown, DeKalb, Delaware, Dubois, Elkhart, Floyd, Grant, Hamilton, Harrison, Huntington, Jay, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lawrence, Marion, Miami, Monroe, Noble, Orange, Porter, Randolph, Ripley, St. Joseph, Steuben, Wabash, Wells, White and Whitley.
"Never bring firewood from known infested areas," Ellis said. "Not only is it illegal, but it endangers your nearby trees and forests.
"If a relative in another county has a dying tree in the backyard for you to cut up and take home to burn, even if he lives in county that's not quarantined, think about what is killing that tree in the first place and whether or not you want to expose the trees in your neighborhood to something lethal.
"One of the safest practices of all is to gather only enough firewood to get through the winter. Burn the entire woodpile before spring so any potential problems are gone before warm weather. Insects emerge from stacked firewood as soon as the weather turns nice."
For more information on EAB and the dangers of firewood movement, visit the Emerald Ash Borer in Indiana Web site at http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/EAB/index.php