Despite advances in technology and electric heating, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces have not lost their charm or popularity. Unfortunately, the firewood used to fuel them sometimes carries hitchhikers that can infest your home.
When improperly stored, firewood can pose a serious pest control problem for homeowners. To prevent wood-destroying pests from taking up residence in your woodpile and migrating to your home, it’s a good idea to implement some proper storage and pest prevention techniques. Here’s a look at common woodpile pests and how to prevent them.
Common Firewood Pests
Termites. Termites generally make their nests underground, where the queen lives. They burrow into the wood to feed on it and then bring it back to the nest. However, if you bring firewood infested with termites into your home, you will introduce these insects to a buffet of wooden goods they will devour. If you notice small tunnels of mud on or within logs, you may have termites in your firewood and should consult a pest control service.
Carpenter ants. Freshly cut wood that is still moist is the preferred home of a carpenter ant. While they do not eat wood, they will burrow holes in it to create a nesting site. These holes are smooth and follow the grain. Unlike with termites, if you introduce carpenter ants into your home by bringing in infested firewood, the chances of an infestation are not very high, depending on the season, because these ants do not like dry wood. However, your home is more vulnerable during the holidays if you have a freshly cut Christmas tree.
Flatheaded borer beetles. Flatheaded borers, also called metallic woodborers, are not picky about the type of wood they eat. They attack trees that are weak, dying and alive. Flatheaded borers lay their eggs in the crevices of tree bark, and the larvae tunnel under the surface the bark. These beetles prefer forest, shade, fruit and birch trees. While flatheaded borers are not known to destroy a home, they may lay eggs in decorative birch logs.
Powderpost beetles. Adult powderpost beetles enjoy making homes in dried and seasoned wood, as well as in dead wood. These beetles will eat both soft and hard woods and are known to destroy woodwork, wood flooring, furniture, tool handles, structural wood and firewood. The exit holes they create are 1/16 to 1/32 inches in diameter and are often surrounded by a powdery substance.
Carpenter bees. While carpenter bees do not generally infest structural wood, they are known to bore holes into fence posts, outdoor wooden furniture, railings and other wood that is weathered. Carpenter bees look like bumblebees, and they prefer wood that has some moisture.
Woodpile Pest Control Tips
To discourage pests from nesting in your woodpile or entering your home, utilize these pest prevention techniques when storing or transferring firewood.
1. Stack firewood off the ground. This easy pest control strategy helps keep wingless insects away from your woodpile. When you stack firewood on the ground, it absorbs and holds moisture, which can consequently attract a wide variety of pests. Consider making a simple firewood rack by placing a 2-by-4 length of wood across stacked cinderblocks that are at least 10 inches high.
2. Stack firewood away from the home. Keeping a woodpile next to your home provides easy access for pests to enter your abode. If your woodpile is stored next to your home and you suspect a termite infestation, call a pest control service as soon as possible.
3. Cover your woodpile. If possible, store your firewood under a roofed area, away from any other structures in your yard. This keeps the rain off and helps the wood remain dry. If you do not have a roofed area, you can cover your woodpile with a sheet of dark polyurethane plastic.
4. Cut your firewood into smaller sizes. This will accelerate its drying and is an easy pest prevention technique.
5. Only bring the firewood you immediately need into your home. Insects or eggs in the wood that remain dormant in cold weather can become roused within the warmth of your home. If left to sit in a pile by the fireplace, they could decide to explore and potentially infest the area.
6. Do not spray insecticides on your woodpile. Insecticides may contain volatile chemicals or release toxins into your home when you burn the wood.
When it comes to your woodpile and pest control, the trick is to create an inhospitable environment for wood-loving insects. However, if you believe insects have invited themselves into your home, do not hesitate to contact a pest control service.