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Firewood and Pests: Keep The Home Fires Burning

The weather is growing cooler and many of us have already built that first winter fire. A fire is a great way to reduce winter heating costs and itís nice to enjoy an evening with family and friends around the fireplace. Unfortunately, bringing firewood into your house can also bring in unwanted pests.

Many insects spend the fall and winter in your firewood. Handling firewood properly can reduce infestation in the firewood and it will reduce the risk of carrying the pests inside your home.

Insects infest firewood either for food, shelter or both. It is common for ants, cockroaches, and spiders to use the firewood for shelter and beetles and termites to infest the wood for food. Certain boring beetles use the wood to lay eggs and to provide food and shelter until the adults can emerge in the spring. Most insects that infest firewood like the warm, humid environment that the wood stack creates.

The wood pile
To reduce infestation outside in the wood pile, store the wood covered and where air can pass through the pile. This will help your wood dry faster, which makes for a better fire, but it will also keep the insects out. Do not cover the firewood completely with a tarp because moisture and heat will be created beneath the tarp. Cover the top of the woodpile with a tarp to keep dew or rain from the top, but allow air to pass through the pile. You can store it under a shelter with a roof, but the wood should be kept off the ground.

Do not store the wood next to the house or under a shelter attached to your house. Termites come from the ground up, so you should keep the wood off the ground and should check occasionally to make sure no termite tunnels have been built up to the wood pile. If you keep a firewood pile in the same location in your yard year after year, you may want to treat the ground beneath the pile with a termite spray.

Most insects that you can carry in with firewood will not survive long enough to infest your home. Some beetles will not emerge from the wood, and therefore, will be killed in the fire. Other insects, however, will become active once brought inside to the warmth of your home. Spiders and cockroaches will become active and can set up household in your home. The termites you may carry in are usually worker termites that wonít swarm or attack the wood inside. Before you bring in wood, especially wood you suspect may have termites, you may want to hit the wood together to knock out termites and their debris before you carry it inside. If debris falls off when you carry in the wood, sweep this up immediately and dispose of it outside. Often, insects can fall out of the wood with the debris.

To cut down the number of insects brought into the house, bring in only wood you intend to burn in a day. Do not store any wood inside your house. You may want to store a small amount close to your house or on the porch or garage, but donít keep the wood more than a day or two. Use up the stored wood first before you add more to the stack. Using the entire stack stored next to the house every day or two keeps ants, spiders, and termites from leaving the firewood and infesting your home.

Never treat the firewood with insecticides. The fumes can be toxic and easily inhaled when broken down by the heat. Insecticides can also be flammable, which can become a fire hazard in your fireplace. If you find cockroaches, termites, or any other insect crawling from a few pieces of wood you have next to your fireplace, smash them or sweep them up. Do not spray an aerosol insecticide near the fire.

Keep your firewood dry so insects will find it less desirable and donít store it next to your house. Keeping insects away from you home will reduce the risk of infestation. For information on how to get rid of insects in your home, please contact

About the Author: Dennise Brogdon is the managing editor of the Hughston Health Alert, a quarterly, patient-information newsletter, and she is an editorial assistant for the National Athletic Trainersí Associationís scientific journal, the Journal of Athletic Training. Dennise is a Web site copywriter and editor. She has experience writing and editing SEO copy and META tags, brochures, advertorials, video scripts, and other technical and promotional material, as well. Dennise earned a BA in English with professional writing as an emphasis at Columbus State University. She is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and the Georgia Writers Association.

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