Firewood makes for a cozy environment in your home the winter. It also makes a great home for bugs and beetles! A well-maintained woodpile is key to keeping your home pest-free if you want to enjoy your fireplace this season. Here’s how:
- Keep firewood stored away from buildings. Woodpiles should never be stored up against the house or other buildings because wood-boring pests can easily tunnel directly from the wood into the structure. By stacking wood against your home you are essentially inviting rodents and wood-boring pests to come inside. It is recommended that firewood is stored at least 3 feet from a structure. If you use a lot of wood, consider having two woodpiles: a main one about 30 feet from your home, and a small amount closer for easy access. And be sure to keep any woodpile away from accessible garbage, compost, bird feeders or dog food – all easy food sources for rodents.
- Stack firewood off the ground on a rack or platform. Concrete blocks, bricks or firewood grates can be used to keep the wood from direct contact with the ground. This makes it difficult for soil-dwelling pests such as termites and ants to infest the wood.
- Keep firewood dry. In addition to burning more easily, dry wood is less attractive to most pests. Maintaining airflow beneath the pile helps reduce moisture problems which attract insects, and placing a tarp over your wood pile is a cheap way to prevent rain or snow from adding moisture.
- Store firewood away from trees. Do not pile wood next to or near living trees because insects from the firewood pile, such as bark beetles, could crawl over to the live tree and tunnel beneath its bark, and cause severe damage.
- First in, First out. Use the oldest wood first, restacking the pile periodically if it makes it easier to access the older logs. This will help to keep pests at a minimum as you are not allowing infestations to build up
- Buy local. Always obtain your firewood locally. Firewood from other areas could harbor more invasive pests and has the potential to create a new infestation where you live or camp. Most experts recommend that no firewood be moved more than 50 miles from its origin. If you are planning a camping trip away from home, don’t bring your own firewood with you; purchase wood from a local source near the camping area.
- Check logs outside before taking inside. Before bringing wood into the house to use in a fire, inspect every log: look them over, shake them, knock them together. Get rid of the pests that are on the surface or beginning to emerge. If using a carrier that’s been set on the ground, be sure to check the bottom of it for any insects that may be clinging there.
- Immediately burn firewood that’s brought indoors. Few insects are active outdoors during the cold winter months; more likely they will overwinter in sheltered spots, such as within or between firewood piles. If the wood is brought indoors and not burned immediately, the insects can crawl out from the wood into the warmth of your home.
- Never store firewood indoors. Firewood should not be stored in any area of the home, basement or garage. Insects can emerge to take up residence within the structure, and the interior firewood pile can also provide attractive harborage for rodents or other wildlife or insect pests.
- Don’t spray infested wood with pesticides. This won’t kill pests that have burrowed into the wood, and worse, spraying wood with chemicals could cause harmful vapors to be released during burning. If you do find any crawlies on the wood after it’s in your house, they can be simply swatted, swept or vacuumed. Most of the pests that cling to or infest firewood are more annoying than they are destructive, except for some wood-boring pests, such as carpenter ants, that will seek new shelter in your home and can damage the structure.
Don’t give pests the gift of firewood and ruin your holiday season. Take precautions and steer clear of them. If you do find bug or rodent infestations in your home, call a pest control professional for a free inspection and estimate.