Even sun worshiping, Southern Californians like the aroma, romantic ambiance and the warmth that a fire in a fireplace brings to their homes during cool, damp, fall and winter evenings. Although some enjoy the atmosphere of an electric fireplace, nothing beats a real wood fire.
Be aware! Anytime you bring materials from the great outdoors into your home, you may be importing hitchhikers. Firewood, pine cones, seedpods and other natural items often host insects and arthropods. The majority, of these pests don’t pose a real threat to your home, furnishings or family, but it’s nice to avoid the unexpected fright and frustration tha their presence can elicit.
- those that actively feed on wood and
- those only seeking shelter.
Here are some creatures that you might run into and some tips for keeping them out of your home.
Beetles are the most common group of insects found within firewood. Wood borers often attack dead or dying trees and are in the wood when it is cut. Often, the first indication of beetle activity is the presences of a powdery dust or frass coming from holes on the wood surface. Adult beetles may also be seen on or around the firewood. Longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae), Flathead and metallic wood borers (Buprestidae), Bark and ambrosia beetles (Curculionidae), Powderpost beetles (Bostrichidae) are a few you might run into.
Their presence in firewood, piled close to the home, may warrent an inspection for termites.
Wood Wasps: Species of wood wasps, horntails and other wasp-like insects breed in dead wood.As with most of the insects mentioned here, they cannot re-infest wood or cause damage to a structure.
Insect invasions of homes from firewood can be reduced by following these simple rules:
- Avoid stacking the wood directly on the ground. This will keep the wood from getting too wet and reduce the chances for infestation by termites and ants.
- Don’t stack firewood in or against the house or other buildings for long periods of time. Termite or carpenter ant problems can develop and cause more serious problems.
- Use the oldest wood first, for it is most likely to be infested. Avoid the tendency to stack new wood on top of old wood.
- Cover the wood during the summer and fall. This will keep it drier and exclude some creatures seeking overwintering sites.
- Shake, jar, or knock logs together sharply to dislodge insects and brush off any obvious structures such as webbing or cocoons before bringing it inside.
- Bring in small amounts of firewood that can be used up in a day or so and keep it stacked in a cool area (e.g., garage or porch) until it is burned. When wood warms up, the creatures in or on it will become active.
- Do not treat firewood with insecticides. It is unnecessary and potentially dangerous due to chemical toxins released while burning. Pesticide treated firewood is a “Health Hazard”!
Always obtain your firewood locally. Firewood from other areas could harbor, non-native, invasive pests, and has the potential to create a destructive 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. Buy wood from a source near the camping area.