Many homeowners in upstate New York have a fireplace in their home that they enjoy using during the colder months, and installing wood-burning stoves for indoor heating has become popular in recent years in the northern US. Homeowners generally store firewood in sheds, garages or beneath tarps against the exterior walls of homes. Most homeowners avoid storing firewood in their home due to the insect pests or rodents that may be attracted to wood piles for nesting purposes. This is a wise idea, as many insect pests are well known for maintaining harborages within firewood piles. Some of these insects naturally nest within dead wood, while others simply prefer the convenient shelter that firewood piles provide. Firewood piles also provide certain insects with an ideal overwintering site, but numerous insects can be found in firewood stacks all year round, especially during heavy bouts of rainfall when securing shelter becomes necessary for survival. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for homes to become infested by insect pests that hitchhike indoors on or within firewood that is stored outdoors.
Firewood that becomes infested with native wood-boring insects will still burn properly, but they usually die before wood is burned. The majority of insect species that commonly hitchhike into homes on firewood are merely nuisance pests that do not bore into structural wood or finished wood items within homes. However, if indoor conditions are conducive to their survival, firewood could end up being the source of damaging infestations. For example, carpenter ants sometimes establish nests within moist indoor structural wood from firewood being transported into homes. The most destructive carpenter ant pest species in the US, the black carpenter ant, is a common structural pest in upstate New York where they may forage within pantries, cupboards and kitchen counters. These pests often establish one or multiple nests within wall voids, insulation, and structural wood that has become moist from plumbing or rainwater leaks. Carpenter ant workers are around ½ an inch in length and black or possibly reddish in color. Luckily, carpenter ants are not considered particularly common pests of firewood. The firewood pests that commonly infest homes belong to three insect groups commonly known as bark beetles, ambrosia beetles and wood borers. Ambrosia beetles can be found burrowing between bark and sapwood, bark beetles bore through bark and into sapwood and/or heartwood, and wood borers can be found either between bark and wood or within sapwood or heartwood. These pests can become an indoor nuisance, but are not a threat to indoor structural wood.
Has your home ever been infested with insect pests that gained indoor access by hitching a ride on firewood?