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Emerald ash borer spreading into Minnesota

With recent news that the emerald ash borer has spread into eastern Wisconsin, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is stepping up efforts to alert residents about the destructive tree pest and its tendency to spread to new areas by hiding inside firewood.

The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic-green beetle that is native to Asia.

Since its accidental introduction into North America in the 1990s, it has been found in Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

EAB kills ash trees by tunneling into the wood and feeding on nutrients inside the tree.

It spreads slowly on its own, but it can hitch a ride to new areas when people unknowingly move infested firewood or other wood products.

With an estimated 800 million ash trees, Minnesota is a prime target for the invasive pest.

Hoping to slow the pest's spread, MDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) are teaming up to spread the word through advertisements on Minnesota Twins broadcasts and through sponsorships on public radio.

Funding for the campaign is provided by APHIS.

The Twins radio advertisements feature catcher Mike Redmond, a frequent user of ash bats.

Such bats could become harder to find if EAB spreads out of control across Minnesota and other states.

"If you're camping, buy firewood where you're going to use it," Redmond says in the message. "Do your part to keep Minnesota's forests healthy, and I'll do my part to put that ash to good use."

Minnesotans can help keep emerald ash borer out of Minnesota by following a few simple tips:

n Don't transport firewood, even within Minnesota. Buy the wood you need locally from an approved vendor. Don't bring any extra wood home with you, burn it all at the site from which you bought it.

n Don't buy or move firewood from outside Minnesota. If someone comes to your door selling firewood, ask them about the source of the wood. If it came from outside Minnesota, don't buy it.

n Watch for signs of infestation in your ash trees. If you suspect your ash tree could be infested by EAB, visit http://www.mda.state.