Traveling for Memorial Day? Here’s a Timely Warning: Don’t Transport Firewood!

May 20, 2013

With Memorial Day approaching, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has declared this week Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week. The invasive pest has infected thirteen counties in that state. It burrows into the bark of ash trees, slowly killing them. State agriculture officials say it’s likely the infestation resulted from the pest’s being transported into the area.

Although it is not known to currently infest Florida, the emerald ash borer does concern Florida agriculure authorities.

GovernorWalker is offering travelers the same advice the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry has long proffered to Florida visitors: Buy firewood at campsites or from a state-certified firewood vendor instead of transporting it from home.

Laurel Wilt

Toothpick-shaped strings of compacted ambrosia beetle sawdust on redbay.

Here in Florida, agricultural officials are working to keep the emerald ash borer out of the sunshine state as they continue to battle the redbay ambrosia beetle, which transmits a fungus that causes laurel wilt disease. The disease is killing avocado and other trees in the laurel family.

Signs of the disease include:

  • Toothpick-like tubes or piles of fine sawdust on the bark
  • Drooping foliage with a reddish or purplish discoloration
  • Black discoloration on the sapwood surface

Because the redbay ambrosia beetle threatens the state’s valuable avocado industry, FDACS/DPI continues to promote the “Save the Guac” campaign. Key points of the campaign – important for travelers to note as Memorial Day weekend approaches, include:

  • savetheguaciconcopyUse local firewood or firewood from a  certified firewood vendor only.
  • Don’t move unprocessed wood, as it can transfer harmful insects and diseases.
  • Don’t transport host trees unless they were purchased from a registered nursery.

See an educational video on laurel wilt in Florida here.


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