Pests From Firewood Aren’t Happy to be Inside
By Chris Williams on January 7, 2011.
Q. We have a fireplace and we stack a small supply of firewood next to it in our family room. Lately I’ve noticed some small dark insects crawling on the wood and some sawdust underneath the stack. Are these insects going to attack wood in my family room?
A. When you bring firewood into your home, you sometimes bring in insects that were happily snoozing in the firewood pile. They don’t want to be inside any more than you want them inside. As they gradually warm up indoors, they begin to sluggishly move around.
Insects infesting firewood generally belong to one of two groups: (1) those that were simply seeking shelter in the wood pile, and (2) those insects that are actually feeding on or burrowing in the wood. Insects from the first group are mostly just a nuisance. They infest firewood simply looking for a sheltered place (usually in cracks or under bark) to spend the winter. These pests include wood cockroaches (no, these cockroaches can’t reproduce indoors!), earwigs, sow bugs, ground beetles, and wasp queens. Most will die shortly in the drier indoor environment.
Even those insects in group (2) that are actually burrowing in the firewood are unlikely to start chomping on wood in your home instead. This group can include carpenter ants, termites, and several different wood-boring beetles. Some infest the dead tree or newly fallen log before it is even cut up into firewood. Others, like termites, infest damp wood that has been stored on the ground for some time. Most of these wood pests have a hard time surviving and reproducing in indoor climates.
The best ways to eliminate pests in your firewood? Stack outside firewood up off of the ground. Rotate the wood pile; don’t let a log remain on the bottom of the pile for more than a year. Debark logs before bringing them inside, if possible. Bring in only small quantities of firewood at a time to reduce the number of pests emerging indoors. Don’t ever spray pesticides on wood that is to be burned in a fireplace or fire pit. You don’t want to be inhaling fumes from treated wood. Get rid of firewood pests by simply vacuuming them up or tossing them back outside.