Seriously, bugs in firewood? “How can their be bugs in my firewood?” you ask.
It can be a huge problem that even local park authorities are reaching out to alert everyone to the potential damage that can be done by moving invasive species of bugs into new habitats through ordinary firewood.
Non-native, tree-killing insects and diseases can be introduced through firewood transported from infested areas. A variety of destructive pests lay eggs or stowaway in firewood. Insects from Asia and Europe have the potential to devastate over 30 species of hardwood trees native to the park. Park officials say movement of untreated firewood has been implicated in the spread of gypsy moth, Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer, thousand canker disease, Asian longhorned beetle, Sirex woodwasp, golden spotted oak borer, and other native and non-native insect and disease complexes.
Pest management experts say infestations threaten forests with widespread tree mortality that could devastate wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and scenic views. The park service says use of firewood that has been heat treated eliminates the threat posed by these pests through the movement and use of wood in campfires.
However, this is not just a forest problem, migrating bugs within firewood. Just yesterday I noticed that I put a log into our fireplace that had some old termite tunnels. If you have firewood around your home you need to be aware that they are hotspots for bug activity.
Termites will obviously love the free wood stacked in your yard. Other bugs, such as beetles, ants, spiders, mice, etc. can be hiding out in your firewood pile as well. Once you start bringing in those fire logs you may have just introduced a bug/rodent to the inside of your home. Even if you do not see bugs in your firewood they might have eggs attached to the firewood which can hatch inside your home.
So how can you go about protecting your home from un-friendly firewood?
A few tips to keep your firewood your family friend. Not the bugs friend:
- Prop your firewood off the ground. Use a rack or some rock base to get the firewood off the ground. This does not guarantee that termites and other insects will keep off the firewood, but it does give some prevention. Putting your firewood off the ground makes finding your firewood pile a bit more difficult.
- Store firewood away from the home. At least 20 feet from your home is a good measurement for storing firewood. Stacking wood directly against your home (while sitting on the ground) is a good way to get bugs & rodents closer to your home.
- Inspect firewood when delivered. If you are not one to cut your own firewood then you probably have someone else bring it to your home. They will generally have firewood outside, drying, for up to a year. This means that they might have their firewood in some prime spots for bugs and rodents. If you can, inspect the wood they bring. If you see termite tunnels, examine to see if they are fresh/active tunnels.
- Refresh your wood pile. If you are not an active user of your firewood refresh your pile annually. If you have leftover logs from the prior winter, have friends over and do a bonfire burning off the remainder of your firewood pile. Bringing in a new pile of firewood will prevent long term opportunities for bugs and rodents to make a cozy home near your home.
- Burn wood quickly when bringing into your home. Do not bring in a big batch of wood and leave it in your house for days on end. If you bring in a batch of wood be sure to use it within a few hours to one day. If there is a bug/s living in your firewood this will take care of them before they get rampant in the house.
- Spread out firewood. If you know you are going to be using some firewood in the home (or maybe have some craft project you are going to try out), then spreading out the firewood could help to scare away some pests. Termites do not like exposure to the sun, rodents would lose their hiding spaces, etc. when spreading out what firewood you might put to use. It might help dry out the firewood, which is a good thing when you want to use it.
The parks department is proposing regulations that firewood brought into the park would need to be heat treated. This would kill off most bug species living on/in the firewood. You and I probably would not want to pay for a whole rick of heat treated firewood. So keep these tips in mind when setting up your firewood rick to be a good pest prevention instead of a pest promoter.