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Stealthy Iowa 'Hitchhikers' Sneak into Firewood

November 11, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa firewood shoppers take note, and check wood for sneaky invaders. Insects such as the emerald ash borer and gypsy moth are sometimes found in firewood trucked in from out of state.

Iowa Department of Agriculture entomologist Robin Prusiner says gypsy moth larvae are easy to spot.

"Egg masses look - this may sound strange - but I think it looks like somebody chewed up brown cardboard and then stuck it on the side of the tree."

Prusiner says you can tell if the emerald ash borer is in firewood if you see an odd-shaped letter "D" scattered on the bark. She advises Iowans not to purchase any firewood that comes from states where there is an emerald ash borer outbreak.

"The thing that we are most concerned about at this point in time, is people getting firewood from areas that are infested with things like emerald ash borer."

So far Iowa, has managed to keep the ash tree-killing insect out of the state, although it's as close as Illinois. Prusiner says that years ago the state's elm tree population was wiped out by a disease that arrived, in part, through firewood.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA