It happens every year. The weather gets colder as the holiday season approaches. The sun sets earlier everyday as you bustle in from a long days work. Perhaps you’re in the mood for some Yule Tide cheer or just trying to put off the increase in your heating bill for just a little while longer.
Braving the chill you scoot out to that long forgotten pile of firewood you’ve collected all summer. You know the one behind the shed. You grab as much as your arms can carry hurrying back inside. Realizing it’s not enough you carry 3 or 4 more loads in and stack them near your fireplace. After a short while and most of the morning paper you’ve got yourself a nice crackling fire. AHHHHHHH, nice and warm. “What’s for dinner honey?”
The night goes by and you carefully stoke your source of warmth and joy.-Oh–“Whats this? A bug” Quick work with the last of the sports page and all is well. Still, awhile later you see several more insects scurrying all around the living room floor or perhaps you’ve now got very large predatory looking dive bombers looping around the dining room lamp. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH we’ve been invaded by bugs!
The once slumbering insects that were nestled in for a long cold winter were brought into what they believe is a quick launch into spring and summer. You simply ‘woke them up’. All kinds of pests will take residence in stored firewood that sits for months or were already in the logs when they were cut. When cold weather comes some insects go into an ‘over winter mode’, while others go into a pupae stage. The two stages of an insects life are ways bugs survive cold winters only to emerge when warmer weather comes.
The list of what can come out of firewood is long. I’ve even seen a case where a mouse family was moved in. Roaches, silverfish, ants, termites, beetles, box elder bugs, assassin bugs, powder post beetles, and all sorts of wood borers. Typically you can find many different stages of life in the wood as well so it’s not unusual to find larvae squirming about or insects in cocoons etc.
Tips to keep bugs out
Never bring in more wood than you’re going to burn. It’s tempting to have a small stack on the hearth but that is actually where most (if not all) of the bugs come from. The bugs in the wood already burning shouldn’t get active quick enough to cause any problem before they -well-add some ‘pops’ to the blaze. The ones in the wood next to the warm glow will yawn and stretch and start looking for the exits. If you do need a ready supply keep the excess outside. Stack your ready pile in a rack or up on blocks.
Never spray around flames!
If the critters are scurrying it’s best to cart any unused wood back outside and let the cold get them. You can have a swatting party with the kids or grab the vacuum to get what you can. If you have a pest service you may want to call for service to kill any that escaped into the near by cracks and crevices. If not then you may need to get to the store to purchase a liquid insecticide you can spray later when the fire is not burning. Don’t freak, it’s not likely that you’ll be infested beyond a few stragglers. Also, if you do bring in subterranean termites you have a better chance of winning the lottery twice in the same week than you would of being infested by them. (see our termite article) Notice I said ‘subterranean’. If it’s flying Drywoods or any other strange looking pest try to catch one and show the sample to the bug guy you called. They’ll help you chart any course of action you may or may not need.