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Avoid Spreading Invasive Species: Buy Firewood Locally

Small steps can add up to big change. That’s the message of many earth lovers, who encourage us to make small changes, such as hanging laundry out to dry on sunny days rather than running the dryer. Well, here’s another small step you can take this summer to help protect the earth: Buy local firewood. Doing so will not only help the economies of communities you visit, it will also help minimize the spread of invasive species. Buying local firewood is one residential pest control step campers can take to avoid spreading invasive species.

As Eugene pest control experts will tell you, invasive pests can hitch a ride on nearly anything that provides them with food and/or shelter. For instance, the rock pool mosquito, an invasive species of mosquito from Asia, is believed to have arrived on American soil via a shipment of tires; the mosquitoes probably bred in standing water in the tires. (Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water, as is well known by every pest control company. Salem, Portland and Eugene homeowners can avoid mosquito infestations by eliminating standing water on their properties.)

Pests that enjoy chomping on firewood include wood-boring insects such as the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle, two species that have destroyed thousands of chestnut, elm, and hemlock trees in the Midwestern and Eastern states. By bringing firewood from home or elsewhere, Americans may spread dangerous these species unknowingly. A Nature Conservancy poll recently found, in fact, that one in twenty Americans has burned firewood that has been transported more than fifty miles, the limit most experts recommend. Transported firewood may contain a residential pest control problem just waiting to “go wild.”

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the problem of pests hitching rides on firewood is serious enough to prompt species councils in Idaho, Washington and Oregon to encourage campers to buy firewood locally. As the Eugene Register-Guard reports, one OSU graduate student even wrote on the topic for his master’s thesis, entitled “Pacific Northwest Campers’ Awareness, Knowledge and Beliefs Regarding Firewood as a Vector of Invasive Species.”

The study’s findings bring hope to those who wish to preserve local species. It found that more than half of the campers who were given information on the hazards of moving firewood said that they had changed their camping habits as a result. Among that group, 70 percent said they now only buy firewood in the area where they plan to burn it. This is excellent news for those of us concerned with wilderness and residential pest control.

Here are a few tips for burning firewood this summer without spreading invasive species:

  • Buy firewood within fifty miles of where you plan to burn it.
  • If you’ve already moved firewood, burn it ASAP, and burn it completely. Rake the storage area where you kept the firewood, and burn any remaining debris.
  • If you must move firewood more than fifty miles, choose commercially kiln-dried wood. Aged or seasoned wood may still contain invasive pests.
  • Even if wood looks healthy and clean, it can contain invasive species in the form of microscopic fungal spores or tiny insect eggs. Buying firewood within 50 miles of where you plan to burn it helps avoid the problem altogether by keeping species in their natural habitats.

Are you already dealing with a major wood insect infestation? Carpenter ants and termites can be fatal for your home’s structural integrity. This summer may be an especially good time to call a pest control company. Salem, Portland, and Eugene pest control experts will tell you that cities across the Pacific Northwest are experiencing exceptionally high levels of pest populations due to our extremely wet spring. If you’re experiencing a residential pest control problem, get in contact with a green, eco-friendly pest control company today.

[ photo by: pobre.ch ]

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