Many fireplaces still use firewood to supplement heat in the home. Firewood is also used for outdoor fire pits to keep warm during the cold winter months. Unfortunately, firewood piles create a perfect shelter and/or source of food for several insects. When a firewood pile sits in one place for more than a few days, you can guarantee it will have insects living inside the pile. These insects are then brought into the home when used in fireplaces.
Many insects attack dead or dying trees; their activities ensure that the resources in the wood are broken down and recycled. Beetles are the most common group found developing in firewood. These include roundheaded wood borers, flatheaded wood borers, and shothole borers. Other insects that seek firewood as a food source may include termites and carpenter ants. Although these insects are harmless, there may be a colony in old wood piles that can start an infestation if brought inside the home.
Insects that seek wood piles for shelter may include: wood cockroaches, wasp or hornet queens, spider egg sacks, praying mantis egg masses, and moth cocoons.
Insect invasion of homes from firewood can be reduced by following a few steps:
- Avoid stacking the wood directly on the ground. This will keep the wood from getting too wet and reduce the chances for infestation by termites, ants, sowbugs, millipedes, centipedes, pillbugs, springtails, and bark lice.
- Don’t stack firewood in or against the house or other buildings for long periods of time. Termite or carpenter ant problems can develop and cause more serious problems.
- Use the oldest wood during the summer and fall. This will keep it drier and exclude some creatures seeking overwintering sites.
- Shake, jar, or knock logs together sharply to dislodge insects and brush off any obvious substance left from insects, such as webbing or cocoons before bringing it inside
- Bring in small amounts of firewood that can be used up in a day or so and keep it stacked in a cool area until it is burned. When wood warms up, the creatures in or on it will become active.
- Do not treat firewood with insecticides. It is unnecessary and potentially dangerous due to fumes that may be produced when the insecticides burn.