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Keep Firewood Pests From Moving In

By Chris Williams on October 13, 2014.
avoid bringing pests inside with the firewood

Enjoy a cozy fire without the bugs!

At this time of year, we often get questions about insects in firewood. Folks are restacking wood and hauling in wood in preparation for winter. They want to know what they should do to keep from bringing in bugs with the firewood.

The pests that you find infesting firewood fall into two groups: those that are just using the wood for shelter, and those that are actually boring into and feeding on the wood. The first group, which includes earwigs, sowbugs, wood cockroaches, spiders, and millipedes, we refer to as nuisance pests. They won’t cause any damage indoors and will die shortly because of the drier indoor air.

“Will They Infest My Home?”

It’s the pests like carpenter ants and termites that people are especially concerned about bringing into their homes. They want to know if these insects could move from the firewood to infest wood inside? The answer is almost certainly “no.” While these insects are capable of infesting wood in a home under certain circumstances, the required circumstances rarely occur. The chances of these insects leaving the firewood and finding suitable wood in a home with a high enough moisture level to establish a colony are slim.

Manage Your Firewood to Manage the Pests

Nevertheless, no one wants to deal with random insects wandering around inside. There are a few steps that can be taken to cut down on the number of pests remaining in or on firewood that you bring indoors:

  • If a smaller stack of wood is stored just outside the door, stack it loosely with lots of air spaces between so the wood dries and it is less desirable as a hiding place for insects.
  • Rotate your firewood stack periodically to make sure you use the older wood first, to help dry out the wood, and to disturb any insects living in the stack.
  • Stack the firewood up off of the ground to keep it dry and away from crawling insects and termites and carpenter ants that only attack firewood directly on the ground. You can cover your firewood pile but be sure to leave some space between the wood and the cover for ventilation.
  • Don’t stack firewood in a garage or basement where higher moisture levels may allow carpenter ants or other pests to survive and move into the structure.
  • Debark the logs to flush insects out before you bring the logs inside.
  • Bring in smaller quantities of wood at a time; don’t stockpile it inside.

If a few insects escape from the firewood, vacuum them up or toss them back outside. Don’t plan on getting rid of hitchhiking insects by spraying pesticides on wood that is to be burned in a fireplace or fire pit. There are no pesticides labeled for that use for a reason. Breathing in pesticide fumes in an enclosed space is not a good idea. Burning the wood will kill the pests just as well!

Photo credit: mripp / Foter / CC BY

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