Firewood and pathogens

By Amy Weiss

Sep 26 2019

As plants travel the world with people, these plants can bring along unwelcome guests—pests and pathogens. Much like infectious diseases in humans, plants often have little resistance to pests they have not encountered before. Introduced fungi that infect trees (chestnut blight, Dutch elm disease) and introduced insects that damage trees (emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle) have all had huge impacts on the forests of North America.

People often transport firewood for use during outdoor activities like camping, skiing, hunting and fishing. In addition to moving the wood itself, fungi and insect pests found inside that wood can also get a ride. The movement of untreated wood can significantly spread invasive forest insects and pathogens a much greater distance than they could move on their own. You can help save the forests you love and limit the spread of pests by not moving firewood—buy wood where you burn it.¹     

A Closer Look

¹ Learn more:

² Murrill, W. (1906). A new chestnut disease. Torreya, 6(9): 186-189. Retrieved 19 Sep 2019, from