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article imageCleaning wood leads to fewer insects in Canada

By Tim Sandle     Jun 1, 2014 in Science
Fumigating or heat treating wooden pallets and crates slows down the spread of bark- and wood-boring insect pests, such as the emerald ash borer, according to some new research.
An economical way of controlling wood munching pests is achieved by treating wooden packing materials, such as pallets and crates, with heat or pesticides. This is according to an international team led by investigators at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
The study shows that infestation rates of bark- and wood-boring insects in wooden packing materials decreased by up to 52 percent from 2003 to 2009 after the implementation of the heat and fumigation measures.
This measures matter because emerald ash borers, which hail from Southeast Asia and Eastern Russia, have invaded Ontario, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, causing an estimated $1 billion in damages annually over the next 10 years.
The lead author Brian Leung, an ecologist at McGill, said in a research statement: "There is an expected economic net benefit to preventing or delaying the introduction of new pests, a few of which may be as bad or worse than the emerald ash borer. Treatment reduces the risk of low probability, but highly damaging, events, much like an insurance policy, or mitigation of natural disasters."
The research has been published in the journal PLOS One, in a paper titled "Effectiveness of the International Phytosanitary Standard ISPM No. 15 on Reducing Wood Borer Infestation Rates in Wood Packaging Material Entering the United States."
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