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Don't bring uninvited "guests" with you this winter

Whether you're a winter cottager, heading out on a winter camping trip, or stocking up on firewood for the colder months, do the environment a favour: don't bring uninvited "guests" with you!

That's right – we're talking about invasive species.

Invasive insects and diseases can be found throughout Canada year-round. They spread easily from one location to another when firewood moves, even short distances.

What's more, climate change can also accelerate the introduction and spread of invasive species looking to hitch a ride in your firewood. Changing temperatures can affect the life cycles of invasives and their ability to spread to new areas.

Your firewood is their ticket to new destinations

All it takes is for an insect, such as the emerald ash borer, to sneak onto firewood in the trunk of your car to travel hundreds of kilometres.

Don't be fooled by its beautiful emerald green colour. This critter is tough!

In the larvae stage, it can adapt to weather as cold as -25°C, burrowing deep into the bark of ash trees during the winter. Some of these trees eventually become firewood. The larvae are able to survive the harsh winter by releasing chemicals that keep them warm and prevent them from freezing.

Other pesky insects like the brown spruce longhorn beetle and spongy moth would also love to hitch a ride on your firewood. We can't let these invasive bad guys spread to new parts of the country!

The emerald ash borer alone has killed millions of ash trees in Canada and over 100 million worldwide. The impacts are nothing short of devastating: invasive species have cost the world at least $1.62 trillion since 1970, and caused significant ecological and economic damage.

Treating, removing and replacing the affected trees is expensive. Once an invasive species moves into your neck of the woods, it's crucial to act quickly to stop or slow its spread.

Tips to stop these travellers

Here's how you can help stop invasive pests from causing even more damage:

  1. No matter what the season, buy or gather firewood in the area where you'll burn it. Ask the seller where the firewood comes from to prevent spreading invasive species.
  2. Where available, look for certified heat-treated – also known as kiln-dried – firewood. The extra cost guarantees an insect-free product that burns well.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the rules for moving firewood and how you can prevent the spread of invasive species.
  4. Before heading out on your next camping adventure, check in with the park or campground to learn their rules on the use of firewood. For example, you may have the choice of gathering firewood yourself when you arrive.
  5. It's just as important to leave behind any wood you don't end up burning. Pay it forward as a good deed for the next person and the environment.

Kids can be plant health heroes too!

If you're a teacher or parent looking for fun project ideas, the answer may be in your woodpile.

Go the extra mile and learn to identify common pests in the type of wood you burn using the CFIA's plant pest cards.

Our plant health hero activity booklets can also be used at any time of the year to teach kids about plant health villains.

The whole family can help to protect our precious plant resources. Share photos of your adventures on social media using #CDNPlantHero and show us what you're up to!

Learn more

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