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Invasive Species: This bug can wreak havoc, buy local firewood only

Asian Long Horned Beetle not in our area, but let's make sure we keep it out, says Sault's Invasive Species Centre
Asian Long Horned Beetle. Photo supplied by Taylor Scarr, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Feb. 27 through Mar. 3 marks National Invasive Species Awareness Week in the U.S.

Alongside that, Sault Ste. Marie’s Invasive Species Centre will be holding its own awareness week for our area.

The Sault’s Invasive Species Centre’s staff do a stellar job of promoting awareness of invasive species and taking the fight to those unwelcome insects, fish, plants and trees that pose a threat to our area’s ecosystem.

The public is invited to follow the Invasive Species Centre’s campaign on Facebook and Twitter (@InvSp) and to follow it through the week using the hashtag #InvSpWk

The theme of the week is ‘Protect What You Love.’

SooToday, with research provided by the Invasive Species Centre, will be highlighting a different form of invasive bug, vegetation or fish each day this week.

We took a look at Oak Wilt Monday.

Another cause for concern is the Asian Long Horned Beetle, said Taylor Wright, Invasive Species Centre project manager.

“As of now, we do not have the Asian Long Horned Beetle in our area, but it is in New York State and some of the other closer American states, so it is a concern.”

“We have had detections of this beetle in the past, in Toronto in 2003, and promptly after that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency  undertook a very, very active eradication program because these species are very problematic,” Wright said.

Asian Long Horned Beetle attack primarily maple trees, but willow, birch and poplar are also potential hosts.

“For Canada, putting the market for hardwood aside, and cabinetry and furniture, maple syrup producers are concerned about this…maple is our identity,” Wright said.

“We have an abundance of beautiful, mature maple in our area, and I think of St. Joseph Island and all the maple syrup producers there. This insect has the potential to cause devastating impacts to those businesses.”

“This particular bug can absolutely wreak havoc,” Wright said.

“In the GTA, they cut over 7,500 maple, poplar, willow and birch trees within an 800 metre buffer of the known infested site to limit the insect’s ability to spread from tree to tree."

Toronto was declared Asian Long Horned Beetle-free in April, 2013, but the bug struck again in Mississauga soon after.

Another eradication program was launched in that community, and monitoring is ongoing.

The Sault’s Invasive Species Centre has many partners, mainly Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, which is actively looking out for all invasive threats.

“Asian Long Horned Beetle is on everybody’s radar, everybody’s worried about this,” Wright stated.

Emerald Ash Borer, another well known invasive species, came over to our part of the world from China on ocean freighters in wood packaging material, Wright said.

“That’s what happened with Emerald Ash Borer, however we didn’t catch it early enough, but this one, Asian Long Horned Beetle, we did.”

“We’re taking very good, forward moving steps to keep this one from becoming a big problem.”

The main step to take in preventing this pest from arriving in our area, like so many other invasive species, is to not transport firewood from other parts of the province or the country.

Slogans to remember, Wright said, are ‘buy local, burn local’ (when it comes to firewood), and ‘buy it where you burn it,’ as seen online

More information on Asian Long Horned Beetle can be found here

SooToday will highlight another form of invasive species Wednesday.


Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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