When Pests Come In With the Firewood!
By Chris Williams on November 18, 2016.
In the last couple of days, we’ve found three strange beetles in our family room. They’re gigantic, about two inches long, very shiny black, and they sort of bumble around. When I looked them up on the Internet, it looks like they might be bess beetles that feed on wood. Do we have an infestation in our house? It seems like it’s too late in the season for them to be coming from outside. E. H., Londonderry, NH
Let me play detective for a moment. I bet you recently brought in a load of firewood and plunked it down near a fireplace in your family room. This is almost always the scenario when an unusual insect like a bess beetle is found inside during cold weather. Bess beetles, or bess bugs, are not household pests and they won’t feed on wood in your home. They are very passive, interesting beetles (kids keep them as pets). Both adult beetles and the larvae feed on decaying wood and live in galleries inside rotting logs. They’re also called “patent leather beetles” for obvious reasons.
These Insects Would Rather Be Outside
Insects and other arthropods move into firewood piles most often for shelter. They may crawl under loose bark or hide in other crevices. This group might include sow bugs, earwigs, ground beetles, or spiders. Others such as carpenter ants, termites, or wood-boring beetles are actually living inside the wood. When bess beetles and other insects living in or on firewood end up inside, they gradually warm up and can become active in a day or two.
These hitchhiking firewood residents don’t want to be inside any more than you want them there. They may end up near windows looking for a way back outside. Don’t worry, circumstances aren’t right for them to survive or reproduce indoors. Most of them will die fairly soon because of the drier indoor air. You can simply vacuum them up or toss them back outside. Bess beetles can squeak when disturbed; don’t let that scare you.
Manage Your Firewood Properly to Avoid Visiting Pests
There are things you can do to keep from bringing pests in with the firewood. Most of the preventative tips have to do with proper storage and management of the woodpile. By the way, since bess beetles live in rotting logs that might mean that your firewood is past its prime. Wood that is stacked directly on the ground is most susceptible to insects and rot. Learn how to manage your firewood and firewood pests by reading our blog, Keeping Firewood Pests Outside.