Cuddling up on your favorite chair in front of a crackling fireplace or wood burning stove can be a relaxing and comforting addition to any winter afternoon or evening. Firewood can make your home pleasingly warm and the smell of burning wood can really set an “Norman Rockwell-type” scene for your family this season. Unfortunately, sometimes unwanted guests can crash the party via the firewood you have brought into your house!
Wood-boring and invasive insects can hitch a ride on or in your firewood and emerge up to 18 months after the wood was brought inside your home. Popular Mechanics Science Edition reports that in a recent study, “Scientists bought firewood from convenience shops and grocery stores only to watch as dozens of species emerged from nearly half of the bundles.” Much of the wood had traveled across state lines, meaning retail firewood could be spreading these pests. So how can you avoid having this happen to your home, with your firewood? Here are some suggestions to avoid inviting pests into your cozy home via firewood this winter.
- Proper Firewood Storage – Keep chopped wood away from buildings such as the outside of your home. Doing so literally invites wood-boring pests to take up residence in the structure. It is recommended that firewood be stored at least 10-20 feet from a structure. Insects and even rodents that hide in woodpiles are likely to enter small cracks, holes, or other openings when too close to the home. In addition to stacking firewood well away from the house, it is best to keep firewood up off the ground so that it is harder for pests to access it. Finally, never stack firewood indoors. Insects can emerge to take up residence within the structure, and the firewood pile can also provide attractive shelter for rodents or other wildlife or insect pests.
- Use Local Wood and Wood Usage Policy– When untreated wood is transferred from one area to another pests can emerge from the wood and begin infesting in new areas. Once you bring the wood into your home burn it immediately, which means that you should only bring in as much as you will use each time. Pests that are overwintering in the wood may come out with the warmth of your home and could set up shop in your house. Another good rule to follow is to follow “First In First Out” policy. This means using the oldest wood first, re-stacking the pile periodically if it makes it easier to access the older logs.
- Inspect Wood Before Bringing it Indoors – Look at each log, shake it, even pound it on the ground to get rid of any pests that may be attached. Spraying wood is not recommended as this could cause harmful vapors when the wood is burned.