For most of us, a fireplace is a necessity during the winter months. Can you imagine a nicer way of spending a cold day in front of a roaring fire, with a cup of hot cocoa in one hand and a good book in another? With the winter months just around the corner, firewood is increasingly becoming an important commodity, mainly because it can supplement a household’s heating supply.
But did you know that aside from that firewood, you might also be bringing unwanted pests into your home? Unfortunately, there are a lot of insects that live and feed off firewood, so you might be unaware that a few critters might be hitching a ride with the firewood you just brought inside the house. This is why it is very important to check that the wood you bring in is free from pest infestation.
Insects and Firewood
There are mainly two groups of insects that infest on firewood. There are those that actively feed on the wood, and those that use it as shelter. Most of these insects are merely a nuisance, and although they do not pose a real threat to the home, they still need to be treated in order to prevent further infestation. The most common insects that can be found in firewood are the following:
Powder Post Beetles
These small beetles are wood-boring pests which have the ability to reduce wood into fine powder. They burrow deep into the wood and create small tunnels. You can tell that these little beetles are present once you see small pinhole openings in the surface of the wood and fresh sawdust nearby these openings.
Carpenter ants are often mistaken for termites. They are very large in size when compared to other ants of their species, and are mostly black in color. Unlike powder post beetles and termites, they do not feed on firewood. Instead, they make hollowed-out sections out of wet, rotting wood in order to build their nests. They chew their way in, and create tiny grooves in the wood along the way. Once they manage to get indoors, carpenter ants can also detect sweets and feed on your pantry staples of honey and sugar. If left untreated, carpenter ants can move on from the firewood you brought inside the house to establish their nests in the moist areas of your house—preferably someplace where the wood is soft and rotting. They may find homes behind your sink, near leaky vent pipes, or inside the interior walls that house your plumbing system. The end result is that they will wreak greater havoc to the wood they are living in.
These pests can move on from their place in the firewood to other places in your house to feed and nest. After feeding off on the firewood, powder post beetles that managed to get inside a home can move on to other unfinished wood furniture. It can even infect the structural wood within the house. Carpenter ants will also create damage by making homes out of the structural beams inside your house, which weakens them.
When it comes to firewood, the best thing to do to avoid insect infestation is to check it thoroughly, both the ones from your own harvested pile, and the ones you purchased. Make sure to dry and store the firewood properly. Dry wood is less inviting to beetles and ants. Your pile should be fully covered to prevent moisture from seeping in. Ideally, store your pile of wood in an elevated area, cover it with tarp, but still allow the air to circulate in to keep them dry at all times.
Do not store firewood for an extended period of time. In fact, firewood should be used and burned within a week or two to lessen chances of an infestation. Bring in only enough wood that you will be using for that day.
Pests that came in with your firewood can cause damage if they are untreated. By knowing what kind of pest has infested your home, you will be able to treat them properly. However, if you’re not sure about what kind of pest has invaded your home, or if you can’t get rid of them no matter what kind of treatment you do on your own, then now is the right time to consult with a pest control professional like Fischer Environmental!
Filed in: Pest Control