Keeping Your Firewood Insect Free

By Jerry B. Mills
Homeowners may unwittingly bring insects into their home along with firewood, but as long as wood is properly handled and stored, insect emergence in the home can be avoided. If wood is kept below 50 degrees, insects living in it will remain dormant. However, if taken indoors and allowed to warm up, insect activity resumes and they may emerge in the home. Emerging insects can then move out of the firewood, wander into the rest of the house and become a nuisance.
The best way to avoid invasion is to store the wood outside in the cold until it’s ready to be burned so insects don’t have a chance to warm up and become active. Store wood away from the house and under a cover, such as in a woodshed, unheated garage, utility building or under a sheet of plastic or sheet metal roofing to keep it dry. Leave an air space between the wood and covering.
Splitting, sawing and stacking wood in loose piles raised off the ground accelerates drying. Few insects will survive if wood is dried quickly and is kept dry.
Firewood also may be stored in a sealed box or container. Apply a coat of residual insecticide inside the container before putting wood inside. But don’t directly spray the firewood or allow wet spray to contact the wood because pesticides can release poisonous gases when the wood is burned.
If firewood insects, such as bark beetles, ambrosia beetles and both roundheaded and flatheaded wood borers, do emerge indoors they are not likely to attack wood in the home. However, powderpost or lyctid beetles can reinfect the hardwood from which they emerged and can attack other unfinished hardwoods in the house.

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