Wood Product Regulations for Invasive Pest Species: Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorn Beetle

Emerald Ash Borer

The sale of wood products such as mulch, pulp, and firewood are an important source of income and a sustainable means of heat production for many New England homeowners. With the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) and the Asian Longhorn Beetle (ALB) to Massachusetts, the sale and movement of these products are now subject to new restrictions and regulations.

First identified in Dalton, MA in 2012, the EAB attacks white, green, and brown ash trees. The spread of this insect, native to Asia, has caused the entire state of MA to be declared under quarantine. This status has ramifications for those looking to sell and purchase wood products generated from ash trees.

Since all of MA is quarantined, unrestricted movement of ash wood products is permitted within the state. Counties south of the New York thruway are also under quarantine for EAB and will allow untreated wood products other than firewood to be moved across the MA/NY boarder unrestricted. Similar allowances are permitted in states or counties adjacent to MA also under quarantine. Movement of quarantined wood products to non-quarantined areas is permitted if the wood products undergo treatments up to the standards required by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). This includes ash wood products, including firewood.

Treatments to ensure any EAB insects or eggs have been neutralized vary based on the wood product. Specific treatment requirements can be found through the Massachusetts Forest Alliance’s website. Generally though, treatments require raising the temperature of the wood to its core for a set amount of time through the use of a kiln, hot water, or steam. In many cases, the removal of bark and the outermost layer of wood are also required and must be treated separately than the rest of the log.

In contrast to the EAB, the Asian Longhorn Beetle has caused quarantines just in the towns of Worcester, Holden, West Boylston, Boylston, and Shrewsbury; all of which are in Worcester County, Massachusetts. The ALB was first identified in Worcester in 2008, and its range of influence expanded to surrounding towns in 2011.

A native to China, Japan, Korea, and the Isle of Hainan, the ALB will attack a number of hardwood species including maple, horse chestnut, birch, poplar, willow and elm. Females lay eggs in a self-created cavity in the tree, usually up near the branches. Once hatched, the larvae will eat the wood surrounding this area and as they grow, make their way to the center heartwood of the tree, continuing to feed on and live in the tree. Once in the adult stage, the ALB will emerge from the tree through a hole they made and mate, beginning the cycle over.

The presence of the ALB can be identified through sap oozing from entry and exit holes made in the trunk and branches of the tree. Trees that are less intensely infested will have entry and exit holes predominantly in the upper branches and trunk while a heavily infested tree will have such holes throughout.

Wood products from the ALB can be freely moved throughout the quarantine area as well as from non-quarantine areas into those that are under quarantine. Caution should be taken when moving products from a non-quarantine area into a quarantined one though, as they cannot then be taken back out under any circumstances. Importantly, not only are logs susceptible to ALB infestation, but nursery stock, pulpwood, and mulch from target species can be infested with eggs if not larvae and adults. All forms of the target species should be considered infested with ALB. 

The Massachusetts Natural Resources Collaborations (NRC) hosts a webpage with up to date information regarding the status and movement of the ALB as well as ways to identify the species and a list of agencies that offer compliance training. Unlike the EAB, no treatments for eradication of the ALB in wood products that would make them safe to remove from quarantined areas are available.

The presence of these pest species negatively affects forest products sales, ascetics of local areas, and the overall structure of Massachusetts’s forests. Understanding and adherence to the regulations set in place to stem their spread can help reduce their impacts on the landscape.