Written on most American campground signs is one of the most important rules enforced by campground and forest officials.
It’s also one of the most ignored.
Transporting firewood to multiple campgrounds has led to the rapid transference of the emerald ash borer beetle.
The beetle, native to Asia, has been present in America since 2002 and has since made its way to the Bloomington area.
Drawn to ash trees, the beetles are attacking and killing the trees in the Peppergrass neighborhood of Perry Township, according to a press release by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
“The beetle is here because man has moved firewood,” said Lee Huss, urban forester of the Bloomington Tree Commission. “People bring in their own wood into campgrounds and spread the ash beetle.”
The beetles target the tree, feeding on the ash produced and killing the branches and, eventually, the tree. With the introduction of foreign wood to forests and camps, the beetle is unknowingly and easily spread throughout the state, Huss said.
The destruction process of the ash trees is similar to cutting the arteries of an organism, said Philip Marshall, division director of the Entomology and Plant Pathology Division of the DNR.
The female beetle lays eggs under the bark and scales of ash trees from May to as late as August. The eggs hatch into larvae, which burrow into the sap and cells of the wood, destroying the living tissue of the tree, he said.
“The process takes about three to seven years, from the hatching to the destruction of the tree,” Marshall said.
The beetle was discovered in southern Michigan and identified as Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire.
In 2008, the beetle was discovered in Monroe County, and its presence has since increased, according to the City of Bloomington website.
“The beetle is a fat, lazy bug,” Huss said. “It does not fly far. How it has spread to southern Indiana has to be the movement of wood to a campground.”
Marshall said the spread to the transportation of firewood and logs to the state’s many campgrounds is one possibility.
“There is the natural spread, where the beetle moves itself, and there is artificial spreading, which is man,” he said.
Marshall said the beetle will travel about one and a half to two miles in one year when moving in a natural way and can travel to up to 200 miles with artificial spreading in one year, or even one month.
The beetles, which are metallic green and grow to only about one-third of an inch, are attracted to the many ash trees located in Indiana, according to the Purdue extension in Monroe County.
“The beetle only attacks the ash tree,” Marshall said. “We have tested the beetles on other trees and they cannot survive. They burrow under the bark and sap and die.”
According to the Purdue University extension website of agriculture and natural resources, there are more than 145 million ash trees in Indiana forests, all at risk if the emerald ash beetle is not controlled.
To prevent the invasion from further destroying the trees, options are available for wiping out the beetles.
Insecticides are the most recommended treatment for the ash trees, according to the DNR.
Insecticide formulations include injections directly into the tree, injections into the soil around the tree and sprays covering the tree’s trunk.
“To save a tree, chemical regiments can be used by homeowners,” Huss said. “Professionals have many products they use on the trees at different times, for their treatment.”