While it’s easy to think of termites as pests you find burrowing within your walls and floorboards, termites are also known to chow down on firewood you may be storing. If the firewood you’re storing near your home becomes infested with termites, they may also decide to move into your house—which is definitely not something you want to have to deal with. Keep reading to learn how best to deal with termites in firewood, and how to store firewood to avoid termites to begin with.
What you shouldn’t do
While it may seem like a safe and smart idea to treat firewood with insecticides—especially since you’re storing the firewood outside—it is commonly advised that you not do this. According to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the insecticide may not penetrate deeply enough in the wood to be effective on the termites inside the wood. Secondly, burning wood that has been treated with insecticide could be a health hazard. There are other methods that you can employ, mainly in how you store the firewood, to avoid infestation by termites.
Keep the firewood off the ground
Keeping firewood elevated and off the ground is one of the most effective ways to store firewood to help keep it safe from termites that nests from the ground and other wood eating or burrowing insects. In fact, many consider it to be the very best method for helping to avoid termites in your firewood. Termites will be traveling to and into the wood using mud tunnels, so the tubes would let you know that there may be activity in the area. Additionally, subterranean termites come from the ground, so firewood stored on the ground would be easier to find and consume. Keeping firewood elevated also helps to avoid termites because it will help keep the wood from getting too wet. In case you weren’t aware, certain species of termites vastly prefer damp wood to eat.
In addition to keeping firewood elevated off the ground, it’s also important to keep the firewood from touching your house as it can provide a bridge from the termite nest in the soil to the foundation of the house—and from there begin an infestation. One way to help avoid this is to keep the wood from touching the exterior of your home directly.
Tips when using firewood
While it is true that mostly you’ll want to store firewood outside to avoid bringing other bugs into the house, one way to store firewood to help avoid termites is to actually bring firewood into the house that you’ll be able to use up in a day or two. When you’re thinking about what firewood to use from your stash, insects invading your home from firewood can be reduced following these 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 other pests.
- 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, 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 insect 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 has little or no effect on insects and is potentially dangerous due to fumes that may be produced when the insecticides burn.
Signs of termites in firewood
While following these methods of storing firewood to avoid termites could surely help, it’s also important to know how to spot them. That way, you can take steps to keep any firewood termite activity from getting out of hand and potentially turning into an infestation in your home. As we mentioned earlier, termites will travel to and into firewood using mud tubes. These are visible to the naked eye on the outside of firewood, and may also be inside. You can attempt to break open a mud tube to see if you spot any white worker termites, which would signify that the tube is still active. Additionally, while some members of a termites colony can fly, they only exhibit this behavior when they’re swarming. Swarming most often happens in the springtime.
Keep in mind that bug activity you see around your firewood could actually be carpenter ants as opposed to termites. Both only have wings when they’re swarming, and can be found in close proximity to wood or moisture. But unlike termites that feed on firewood, carpenter ants, cockroaches, and many species of beetles can be found nesting in firewood.
If you’re worried about termites in your home, you can view our termite prevention checklist. However, many of these items can be time-consuming and difficult for a homeowner to complete on their own. This is where Terminix comes in. A Terminix pest professional will be able to provide an inspection of your property, as well as best-in-class services to help you manage a termite infestation.