Avoiding unwanted camping guests

(Tent of an eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum). Photos: Natural Resources Canada)

The Gypsy Moth and other forest pests can seriously damage the parks, woods and forests that Ottawans love to visit in summer. Natural Resources Canada entomologists duo Dr. Amanda Roe and Dr. Chris MacQuarrie are studying these and other forest pests to slow their spread. Amanda and Chris are passionate about bugs (and spending summers outdoors) and love to give tips on how to identify the bugs and save residential trees, local woods and forests in Ontario.

(The European Gypsy Moth)

With camping season upon us, campers should remember that the one thing that should ALWAYS be left behind when packing is firewood.

Although it may seem harmless to bring a few logs for the campfire, this simple act can be extremely detrimental to the forest around you.

Entomologists with Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Forest Service (CFS) say the most common way to spread invasive insects is moving firewood, logs, branches, or other wood.  Insects hide or lay their tiny eggs underneath the bark, making it virtually impossible to spot pests on wood with the naked eye.

(European Gypsy Moth egg mass)

Once a pest establishes in a new area, it may be impossible to eradicate. Forest pests cause enormous damage to native trees and plants that lack defences – the bugs can slow growth or even kill trees, having a considerable impact forest health as well as recreation and tourism industries.

The emerald ash borer is an example of how fast invasive pests can spread and damage environments when people bring wood from one place to another. The shiny green insect from Asia has killed millions of ash trees in Canada and moves only 2 kilometres per year on average. However a truckload of firewood infested with emerald ash borer can be moved hundreds of kilometres in a single day. With the help of humans, emerald ash borer beetle has spread to 35 US states and from Manitoba to Nova Scotia, since it was first detected in the Detroit-Windsor area in 2002. Emerald ash borer kills up to 99% of ash trees within 8-10 years of its arrival to an area.

(European Gypsy Moth tree defoliation)

Reducing the spread and damage of undesirable insects and diseases is part of the research led by CFS researchers. They work on developing a range of biological and forest management tools and techniques to detect and control insects and diseases.

In Ontario, the transportation of firewood also can mean the spread of the highly destructive Gypsy Moth and the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.

(Hemlock Woolly Adelgid trees)

Leave a Reply