Eliminating nuisance firewood insects

When the winter winds start blowing we bring firewood inside to burn and help keep us warm. Unfortunately, there may be insects in the wood that are more than happy to share our cozy space.

Jonathan Larson is an extension entomologist at the University of Nebraska.  He says there are two ways that bugs are attracted to firewood. Some of them just hide out between the cracks, but others are living in it full-time, such as wood-boring beetles. 

"They’ll come out as adults and people will usually become startled. They’re afraid that these borers or these beetles will then infest their furniture around their house. I’m happy to say that that won’t happen, you don’t have to worry about that," says Larson. "The other ones are going to be things like spiders, smaller beetles, wood roaches, the roly-polys, the pill bugs. And as you bring it in you warm them up in your house and then they start to crawl around and that freaks a lot of people out."

Don’t panic, just grab the vacuum cleaner and suck them up. It is possible to prevent bugs from hanging out in your firewood. At least most of them.

"You should try and stack it up and maybe cover it up with a tarp or maybe have a little container that you put the wood into. Keeping it dry definitely makes it less attractive to the things like the roly-polys, and the spiders, and stuff like that," he says. "It won’t do much to deter the beetles that may already be in the wood, babies that are developing and turning into adults, but it definitely will help cut down on the others."  

Try not to stack the woodpile directly on the ground. Only bring in wood as needed, and use the oldest wood first. Larson does not recommend treating firewood with insecticide. It's useless because the bugs are sheltered within the wood. And, if you burn the treated logs, harmful vapors are released into the house.