Invasive pests can hide in firewood

October is one of the most popular times of year for camping in New York State, and experts say with this popular outdoor activity, it’s important for campers to know the risks of wood. of heating.

While most are aware of the dangers of unattended or poorly maintained campfires to fire safety, wildfires are not the only way forests can be damaged by campfires. Invasive species, especially insects, can live in firewood for long periods of time and emerge to wreak havoc on their surroundings.

The St. Lawrence and Eastern Lake Ontario Regional Invasive Species Management Partnership (SLELO PRISM), part of The Nature Conservancy, works to raise awareness of invasive pests that travel via heater. Like fire safety, safe firewood practices are simple to follow and are essential to preventing and managing invasive pest populations.

Steps campers can take when choosing firewood:

  • Buy firewood where you plan to burn it;
  • Buy certified and heat-treated firewood; and
  • Responsibly collect firewood on site when permitted.

It is almost impossible to tell if firewood contains harmful insects. These insects and diseases cannot travel far on their own, but when people move the firewood the insects live on, they can travel hundreds of miles. New infestations destroy forests, destroy property values ​​and cost huge sums of money to control.

Pests like the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, spotted lantern and many others can lurk in or on wood for months at a time, even in harsh winters.

Due to the prevalence of hitchhiking pests, many states and parks have rules to encourage the use of local and/or certified heat-treated firewood. In New York State, it is against the law to move untreated firewood more than 80 miles from its place of origin. Additionally, many parks and campgrounds sell firewood on site to avoid the unnecessary transfer of infested firewood.

More advice on firewood:

  • Campers using firewood for the evening should purchase some or find some near their campsite;
  • Keep firewood as close as possible to where it was found (within 50 miles); and
  • If you must travel with firewood, be sure to purchase firewood labeled as certified and heat-treated firewood.

Firewood safety information is part of the SLELO PRISM ‘Pledge to Protect’ educational initiative which provides simple actions everyone can take to protect our lands and waters from invasive species. Register online for Pledge-To-Protect at When registering, choose from five action areas: Lands and Paths, Gardens, Forests, Waters and Community. The information is sent monthly by e-mail.

For more information on firewood safety in New York State, go to

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