This article was crafted with the help of Bill Hastings of Rose Pest Solutions.

Firewood looks innocuous enough, right? It’s just wood that has been harvested for you to enjoy in your fireplace during the chilly winter months, but the truth is that your stack of firewood could be home to a host of pests. To learn more about the best ways to avoid bringing firewood pests into your home when all you want is a cozy evening by the fireplace, we talked to Bill Hastings with Rose Pest Solutions, one of our Chicago Pest & Termite Control Best Picks.

It’s important to remember that wood insects are a completely normal occurrence—the key is keeping them out of your house. According to Bill, a variety of insects make their home in wood, including sow bugs, centipedes, millipedes, pill bugs, earwigs, termites, and almost any beetle you can think of. Bill notes that aside from termites, very few of these insects will cause problems. Keep reading for his top four recommendations for homeowners seeking to avoid a firewood pest invasion.

covered wood stored above ground1. Store your firewood properly. Storing firewood correctly—off the ground or concrete and away from the house—is one of Bill’s main pieces of advice. Keep the garage off-limits for firewood storage, too. He notes that “moisture is what all insects want, so controlling that moisture and keeping the wood dry is key.” Bill recommends elevating the stack of wood outside and then covering it with a tarp. He adds that “the drier the wood, the less hospitable it is for most insects.” Termites are, of course, big fans of dry wood, but storing firewood away from the house helps deter them from coming inside.

2. Don’t travel outside your immediate area for firewood. Purchasing or collecting firewood from locations far from your home is not a good idea. In fact, Bill cautions that in many states, “it is illegal to transport firewood more than a few miles unless you are licensed to do so.” Bill notes that “firewood from outside areas could have invasive pests that don’t belong in your area and have the potential to create new infestations where you live.” He adds that “many experts recommend that firewood not be moved more than 50 miles from its origin.”

3. If possible, collect firewood in the winter. If you purchase firewood, you probably won’t have any control over when it was harvested. But if you harvest your own firewood, do so during the winter months. “April through October,” Bill says, “is when insects are most active.” He notes that “by cutting down trees in winter months, you will lessen the risk of bringing home infested firewood.”

termite damage rotten wood4. Don’t panic if you find bugs. As Bill reminds homeowners, it’s not unusual to find bugs in firewood. Wood is an organic material, after all, so bugs are going to use it for either shelter or food. The important thing to remember is to never spray firewood with pesticides—Bill notes that if you do, “you may be exposed to harmful toxins as you burn it.” Instead, physically remove any bugs with a vacuum cleaner or by picking them up and taking them back outside.

Most firewood will be home to bugs, but preventing a pest infestation in the house is the primary concern for most homeowners. Stick to locally harvested firewood, and remember to store it in an elevated, covered spot outside—not in the house or garage. Making sure that firewood is kept away from your house is the best way to avoid a termite infestation. And remember that if you find a bug or two on your firewood, don’t rush for the pesticide. Grab the vacuum cleaner or a few paper towels instead. Following Bill’s advice will ensure that you spend your winter evenings curled up in front of a cozy, roaring fire, not tracking down and eliminating a bug infestation.

This spotlight article was crafted with the help of Rose Pest Solutions, a Pest & Termite Control Best Pick in Chicago. While we strive to provide relevant information to all homeowners, some of the material we publish may not pertain to every area. Please contact your local Best Pick companies for any further area-specific advice.

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