Friday, December 30, 2011

Use Caution When Storing Firewood

Another pest control tip from Servall Pest Control:

Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are very popular ways to heat, creating a demand for firewood.

Although wood, considered a renewable fuel resource, is relatively inexpensive, often readily available and can quickly warm a cold room, it also can serve as a home for certain nuisance insects and their relatives.

Homeowners become alarmed when sawdust is pushed out of the firewood, faint rustling or gnawing noises are heard and insects emerge to crawl or fly within the house.

For the most part, firewood insects are a nuisance by their presence and cause no harm to the home, household furnishings or humans.

Most firewood insects and their relatives are active from April to October. Many round-headed and flat-headed borers complete their life cycle in one year or up to two to four years. Keep in mind, most insects and their relatives found in firewood are considered either wood boring or shelter seeking.

Some adults prefer recently cut logs and others seasoned logs. Bark beetles and ambrosia beetles might have two to three generations per year and often attack weakened, dying and dead trees. Powderpost beetles complete their life cycle in three months to one year.

Powderpost beetles prefer wood that has been cut for several months (seasoned). Carpenter ants and termites prefer damp, moist wood such as old tree stumps and wood in soil contact. Carpenter ants can develop from egg to adult in about two months or up to 10 months in cooler weather. Termite colonies vary in their life cycle with low populations the first year and active, larger colonies in the fourth year. (Termite establishment is slow depending on moisture, temperature and food.)

Tips for storing firewood

Never stack wood against the house or other buildings. Store firewood outdoors in an open area, as far away from the house as practical, to keep away insects and dirt (debris).

Stack firewood off the ground to eliminate serious soil moisture problems leading to wood rot and pest problems. Stacking firewood in loose piles raised off the ground, as well as splitting or sawing into smaller sizes, accelerates drying.

A simple storage rack can be made by placing two-by-fours on concrete blocks. Stack the firewood on top of the two-by-fours, allowing an air gap of at least 10 inches between the ground and firewood.

For a cover, one can use a sheet of dark polyurethane plastic or sheet metal roofing to keep the wood dry. During the summertime, the area under the plastic will build up heat, evaporating the moisture and killing various stages of insects and other pests within. Provide proper ventilation if water vapor collects on the plastic cover from the green, unseasoned wood.

Bring only enough firewood into the house to be burned immediately. As cold weather arrives, pieces of firewood can be moved nearer to the house for easy access.

Firewood again should be stored on a rack, patio or deck instead of on the ground. Firewood stored inside the home for more than an hour or so may warm up enough for insects to emerge from within or under the bark and start their spring activities early. Also, do not store firewood in a heated garage or basement for the same reason.

Burn older wood first. Try not to carry over large quantities of firewood from season to season. After one to two seasons, unprotected firewood left outside on the ground will become tunneled and full of frass from many wood boring insects, develop loose bark for nuisance insects to take shelter and decrease in heat value from wood decay fungi.

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