So, you need to get rid of some bugs in your firewood.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn:
- Why bugs are in your woodpile
- How to protect your firewood from pests
- How to naturally get rid of bugs in your firewood
- Ways to eliminate mosquitoes, termites, spiders, and wormwood
- The most common types of bugs found in wood
- And more!
By the end of this page, you’ll have everything you need to know to eliminate the pests in your woodpile outdoors.
You can bookmark this page for easy reference, as it’s a complete resource and quite lengthy.
And if you ever have questions, post a comment and ask me!
Sound good? Let’s save your firewood!
Why do I have bugs in my firewood?
Because firewood provides plenty of shelter, food, and is relatively secluded, many pests will make use of this and establish a colony within your woodpile.
Firewood offers many appealing characteristics to bugs:
- Firewood provides many nooks and crannies for bugs to live
- Woodpiles attract bugs for other bugs to eat
- Wood piles are undisturbed by humans
- Wood shields the bugs from sun, rain, and natural predators.
- Woodpiles offer a dark, sheltered area for pests to stay
- Firewood is resistant to wind
- Firewood is a source of cellulose for wood-eating bugs like termites
As you can see, this makes wood a very appealing habitat for bugs to reside in. sadly, this means that woodpiles can house a variety of bugs that may find their way into your home.
Whether you have natural piney wood from the outdoor trees or artificial woodpiles you built yourself, both are susceptible to pests.
You should get rid of the firewood bugs as soon as possible to prevent further infestation into your home.
What kind of bugs live in wood?
There are quite a few pests that live in wood. If you have signs of pests in your firewood or woodpile, let’s take a look at the possible bugs you’re dealing with.
The most common ones are listed here.
These are beetles that eat up wood in common household flooring and paneling. They chew small holes through the wood and leave sawdust as they bore through the lumber.
The holes they create are used by adult beetles when they come out as an adult and exit the wood.
Some powderpost beetles eat only hardwood such as Lyctid beetles, whereas Anobiidae beetles eat softer woods.
Carpenter bees consume unpainted and bare softwoods. They have the appearance of large, black bees that emit a loud buzzing sound and are active in spring to early summer.
The males are harmless as they don’t sting, but the females can sting humans and pets if threatened.
These bees prefer specific woods, which are typically pines, cypress, cedar, or redwood. They nest in window eaves, fascia boards, patios, and wooden decks.
These bees are wood borers and will do damage over time. Keeping your home painted can help protect your house from carpenter bees as the paint deters them and is a repellent.
You should also watch for previously infested areas by these bees as they often return to the same exposed and bare wood to consume.
Bark beetles are another type of wood borer that creates holes in wood for an exit as an adult. They can damage the wood and are often found in tree bark, as their name implies.
These beetles typically infest damaged trees and can be difficult to control for those who live in an area where bark beetles are native to. Some beetles have been reported to eat acorns and nuts, depending on the species.
Longhorned beetles are another type of beetle that’s commonly found in wood. They eat fresh-cut firewood and will lay their eggs on tree bark.
The newly emerged larvae are wood borers and will eat and burrow through firewood.
They’re a common pest and are harmless towards humans, but there are some longhorned beetles that will destroy household lumber. Burning firewood will kill the beetle.
These wasps are a species of wasp that consume wood by drilling holes into it.
They’re also known as “horntail” wasps and complete their life cycle in conifer trees. They’re firmly attracted to trees that are unhealthy and will consume the lumber.
There are over 150 non-social species of the Siricidae family and are often found in the garden or home.
They’re active through summer to fall, depending on the species. Wood wasps are destructive towards pine trees and other woody trees.
Wood-boring yellow jackets
Yellowjackets are also known to consume wood and you may notice some when you move your woodpile around.
A few may escape and fly out. These pests prefer unfinished woods and you’ll see finger-sized holes into wood.
They’re often ground dwellers and stay close to the surface. They can be beneficial to your garden, but they frequently chew on decks, awnings, and patios as they forage and look for wood.
You can get rid of them by practicing some basics in your yard.
Yellowjackets will make their nests right in the middle of wooden structures such as barns, playhouses, sheds, outhouses, and even your home!
These ants are commonly found eating their way through hollow trees and homes.
Just like termites, carpenter ants are destructive and will eat your home’s roof, walls, and floor structure. They target chewable lumber, especially wood that’s already damaged or molding.
These ants build extensive tunnel networks and will damage the structure of your home over time.
Unlike termites, they don’t eat the wood for nutrition. They simply carve out tunnels which is what causes the main source of damage to household infrastructures. Moisture and stagnant water will attract these ants.
Overgrown trees and foliage will provide a bridge for them to get access to your home’s room, attic, or wall voids.
You should always seal up any cracks in your home’s windows, vents, and doors. Never allow trees to touch your home by keeping them trimmed or pruned.
Carpenter ants can be introduced by store-bought firewood, building or construction materials, and even debris from plants.
If you have carpenter ants, you can check out this guide on how to get rid of them.
How do you keep bugs out of firewood?
If you have bugs in your firewood, here are some tips to keep the bugs away.
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Keep your firewood as far from your home as possible
If you have a large backyard, consider moving the woodpile away from your home. Usually, a distance of 30 feet is sufficient to prevent bugs from drifting around and making their way into your house.
Many pests and rodents like ants, mice, and termites will live in the woodpiles.
The farther you can relocate the wood from your house, the fewer bugs you’ll have to deal with that invade your home.
Most bugs don’t venture far from their colony, so moving the woodpile farther from your home will help. If you have a small pile, you can easily do the job in just a few hours.
However, if you have a lot of firewood or a small yard, you may have to get creative or dispose of some.
Keep your woodpile secure
This means you should be tarping your firewood completely to the ground. Just a simple tarp protects wood from many flying pests.
And if you can wrap the woodpile all the way down to the ground, you can have a secure pile of wood. For extra protection, use a DIY bug repellent around the base of the pile where the tarp meets the ground.
We’ll cover some natural pesticides and repellent you can make at home to keep the bugs out later in this guide.
Keep the firewood off the floor
Keep your woodpile off the ground when possible. This means layering the pile on concrete bricks. Locks, or even firewood grates.
This will reduce the number of bugs that have easy access to your woodpile and protects the bottom layer from rainwash mud, dirt, and other things that may come across the pile.
You can build a simple layer of concrete bricks in a 4 x 4 pattern to keep the contact o the lowest layer off the ground.
This also makes it easier to tarp your wood and keep bugs from crawling up the pile at the very bottom of it.
Don’t buy woodpiles from unknown sources
Most people will buy firewood from local sources, which is the best way to do so.
When you buy imported wood or cheap firewood from unknown brands or sellers, you have the potential to introduce foreign pests from other parts of the world to your backyard.
This is why it’s important to always buy the same brand or from the same firewood lot over and over.
Even if you get pests from the local firewood, it’ll always the same bugs that you can handle once and forever rather than new bugs each time.
This can also help prevent invasive species from coming into your yard and home.
Don’t store firewood in your home or basement
This should be common sense.
Never store firewood in your home, basement, spare room, or living room.
This just increases the chance of bugs entering your home and then really infesting your house. Imagine if the wood had termites and you brought it into your home.
The termites will then breed and eat the wood, and then the flying termites will make a new colony in your home very easily. You should never store wood in your home, especially in areas that you don’t monitor like your garage, basement, or even attic.
Some tree termites in nearby arboreal woody trees may even use them as a bridge into your home.
Bugs can emerge from the wood or use it as a shelter. Rodents, pests, and other wood-eating bugs may become present and then start to move into your home.
Use the oldest wood first
When you restock your woodpile, always use the oldest logs first.
This will kill off any bugs that have started a colony or nest in the older wood.
Since newer wood that’s been inspected (by you) and checked tends to not have any established colonies, they’re relatively safe. It’s the older wood that’s been sitting around that has established pests or homes for mice, rats, ants, and other bugs.
This is why you should use the older pieces first when you restock.
Using them will burn up any existing bug nests and prevents them from building up. In other words, use the “first in, first out” rule, also known as FIFO.
Rotate the woodpile
This goes with the FIFO rule above- when you restock, rotate the wood so that the older logs are on top and the newer logs are on the bottom.
This makes it easier to get rid of the bugs that are present and will make checking the wood for pests much easier.
Check your firewood
Do regular firewood checks and look for bugs whenever you rotate, restock, or retrieve wood before use.
This will let you know the situation and let you see if there are any bugs percent. Check for nests, droppings, or invisible bugs on the wood.
Before you bring any wood inside to your fireplace, check for signs of pest problems. If you find any pests, this is a good opportunity to get rid of some wood or address the situation.
You can do the following to check for bugs in firewood:
- Visually examine each log
- Shake the log for pests
- Check for rodent droppings
- Check cracks within each wood piece for bugs
- See any visible pests on the log
- Knock wood pieces together to loosen and disturb bugs present
Use the firewood ASAP
After you check a firelog and it’s ready to be used, use it right away.
Bring it indoors safely and light it up. You shouldn’t place it in quarantine or sitting around for any amount of time, as this exposes it to bugs.
Since firewood is most popular during the colder months, this is good because bugs are more active during the summer and warmer months. However, bugs may still be hiding in the log that you can’t see or missed.
This is why you should burn it right away when you bring it inside to your home. The temperature of your house is warmer than the outdoors and this could trigger the bug to wake up from overwintering or hibernation.
You should burn the firewood right away so you kill the bug before it wakes up and leaves the wood into your home!
Never leave logs sitting in your home overnight. Use them as soon as you harvest them from your woodpile outdoors. Be quick!
Don’t use pesticides
Using chemical pesticides from store-bought brands can be dangerous.
After you spray the wood, burning it can release the harmful compounds into your home.
You should only use safe to burn, DIY pesticides if you need to spray something to keep the bugs off your firewood.
Keep your woodpile dry
Humid and wet wood bings bugs like no other.
When wood gets wet, it starts to become fragile and weak, which allows bugs to easily burrow, eat, and penetrate the wood to extract cellulose.
You should always keep your wood piles dry by using a tarp and keeping it off the ground.
Rainwater should be drained from buildup and tarps should be emptied of water puddles after each rainfall.
Watch for stormy winds and keep the tarps secure. Check for holes and loose tarps often.
Dry wood is overall not as appealing to bugs so this can help natural keep bugs off firewood.
Moisture is where the problems come, so keep your firewood free from moisture and you should have fewer problems with pests.
This is one of the most effective things you can do and it costs you next-to-nothing. This can help you store firewood to avoid termites.
Keep the firewood organized
Don’t let the pile get messy and all over the place.
Keep the woodpile clean, tidy, and secure. It should be off the ground, tarped, and secured from bugs and rodents.
Don’t let it become exposed to the elements and don’t place it near your house.
The perfect pile should be at least 30 feet from your home, on a supporting brick layer, tarped, and regularly rotated and checked for bugs monthly.
How do you get rid of bugs in wood?
If you have bugs in your wood, here are some methods you can use to naturally get rid of wood-boring pests.
Try a few of them out and see what works best for you. There is no single solution. Use a combination of methods for the most effective results.
Some methods are designed to kill bugs in wood while others are geared for keeping pests out.
Freeze the wood
For the affected wood piece, you can freeze it to kill off most of the bugs present in it.
Wrap the log with a cloth to keep it from breaking into pieces and then place the entire log into a freezer.
Keep it in there for at least 3 days. Use a commercial freezer, cooler with ice, or an ice chest. Don’t use your personal fridge as the bugs may contaminate your food.
You can thaw the piece afterward to check for bugs. Specific pests may be tolerant to colder temperatures, so it may not work for all bugs.
You’ll want to safely check the wood after freezing it to see any bug activity. If bugs are still present, consider using another method like heating or disposing of that log.
Heating the wood
This method kills bugs by overheating them in the sun. Use a thick and large cloth and wrap up the log that has bugs. Place the entire thing outside in the sun on a bright and sunny day.
The log will become extremely hot over time and kill the bugs that are present in it.
Use a thick plastic like saran wrap (cling film) to cover the log before wrapping it with a cloth. The temperatures within the film will rise steadily.
You need to make sure you cover the entire log so no bugs can escape the artificial “greenhouse” you created.
Check for bug activity afterward letting it cool down to ambient temperature.
Be careful as the piece will be extremely hot. Heating lumber is similar to using kiln-dried wood. Kilns will reach 140F on average and kill bugs within lumber.
How to bake firewood
You can also place the firewood in your oven to kill the bugs.
Note that you shouldn’t do this if you’re afraid of contaminating your oven, as bugs can fly off the wood and then stick to the sides of it. This will require that you clean your oven and disinfect afterward, so consider the consequences before you proceed.
To bake firewood, place the entire log on a baking sheet and place it in the oven. Set the temperature to 140F and leave it there until the internal temperature reaches at least 140F.
This may take up to 7 hours because you’ll to “bake” the wood for several hours after it reaches 140F to ensure a 100% bug kill.
Be sure to take all precautions with baking and remove any visible bugs before baking it. Baking the wood will kill ants, termites, beetles, and wood borers when the temperature goes high enough.
This is one effective way to get rid of bugs in wood but does require quite some manual labor.
You can bake multiple pieces at the same time for efficiency if your oven is large enough to support it. Be sure to use oven gloves!
What temperature kills bugs in wood?
You can eliminate most pests in your firewood by heating it to 130F for several hours.
The reason why heating wood takes so long is that wood is thick and insulated and it takes time for the heat to reach the inside of the wood. This is why bugs hide in it because it offers a safe haven from heat and cold.
You need to heat the wood for several hours (6-7 hours) to be sure that the internal temperature reaches at least 130F to kill all the bugs in your firewood.
Does borax kill bugs in wood?
Borax will kill existing wood borers. You can buy borax at most department stores in the laundry aisle.
The best part about borax is that it’s completely safe for pets and humans, as it’s an all-natural solution that’s very effective against wood-eating bugs.
To use borax for pest control, here’s how:
What you’ll need:
How to treat the wood:
- Add equal parts borax and water in a mixing bowl.
- Use a scrubber and dip it in the borax mixture to soak it.
- Scrub the timber with the scrubber and let it soak into the cracks.
- Scrub the entire firewood until it’s completely soaked in borax.
You can also use a small kid’s pool and fill it up with the borax and water mixture.
Place as many logs as you can fit into the pool and let the borax saturated the wood. It’ll kill nearly 100% of ants, beetles, termites, and other wood-boring pests.
Let the wood dry for a week afterward before using it in the fireplace or heating.
How to stop bugs from infesting firewood
Timbor is a commercial product you can buy at specialty hardware stores. You mix the powder with water and then apply it on infested wood just like borax.
The Timbor powder soaks into the wood piece and prevents any bugs as it repels them.
After you soak your wood, clean it off. You’ll then have to wait for it to dry. Use it as directed on the product label.
Timbor will help stop bugs from establishing a home in your woodpile but does not kill any present bugs. This is more of a way to prevent bugs from infesting your woodpile.
Timbor works for reclaimed wood. Use as the manufacturer states on the product label, as there are many different types of Timbor.
What kind of bugs leave behind sawdust?
Most wood-boring pests will leave sawdust behind as they drill through the wood and chew on it.
The most common bugs that leave sawdust behind are:
- Carpenter ants
- Powderpost beetles
- Wood-boring beetles
- Various ant species
Should you stack firewood against the house?
No, you should never stack or place firewood against your home.
This is bad for multiple reasons, namely because pests and rodents will have easy access to your home.
Since your home is likely made from wood, and firewood attracts wood-boring pests, that’s a bad combination. Bugs that are in your firewood will slowly migrate into your home also.
Stacking firewood against your home just provides another path for bugs to enter and invade your living spaces.
Not only does it make it easier for them to access it, but this also provides them a “ledge” for them to climb into your attic, basement, patio doors, windows, and windowsills. Because firewood stacks are tall, pests can climb up into your home using the logs like a ladder.
This is why you should never stack firewood against on your house, or even store it close to it.
Always keep at least 30 feet between your home and the woodpile. And make sure that the pile is elevated from the floor and covered by a tarp securely.
Can you use firewood that has termites?
You should avoid burning firewood that has termites because this poses a possible threat of bringing them into your home.
By transporting the firewood inside your home, you’re releasing termites directly into your house.
And once termites fall off the firewood and make their way into your wall voids, they’ll start a new colony and eat up the wooden structure of your home.
The fire will kill termites, so the problem isn’t actually using the wood and being afraid of termite infestations in it.
The problem is the possibility of the termites falling off the firewood and invading your house.
By carrying the lumber to your fireplace, kiln, furnace, or stove, the mere act of transporting the log poses a risk to drop off termites. You may also have termites come off the log in your fireplace or stove, which means they can infest those objects also.
You should avoid using termites infested firewood when possible. The only exception is if you’re burning the lumber outdoors in a controlled environment, such as the beach.
Is it OK to burn termite-infested wood?
Yes, it’s okay to burn wood that has termites.
As long as you burn it outside of an area where termites may infest. This means places like beach campfires are perfectly fine.
Avoid using the wood in woody areas like forest campfires because the termites may escape the lumber and then get into the surrounding trees.
And of course, don’t use the wood in your own home.
How do I get rid of bugs in my Barnwood?
If you have pests eating up your Barnwood, you can treat the wood by using a local kiln to heat treat the bugs.
You can also sticker the wood by using 1×1 sticks to maximize airflow to dry the wood. Moisture and wet wood will attract pests like pillbugs, house centipedes, cockroaches, earwigs, and even ladybugs, so it’s important to keep the wood off the ground.
Depending on the size of the infestation, you can also try freezing the wood in a commercial cooler.
For a commercial solution, Borate can also kill bugs hiding in the wood, which can be bought at hardware stores.
Follow the directions as listed. Borate is safe for humans and pets, but you should always double-check the label and MSDS data to be sure.
If you’re looking for a DIY solution, use a mixture of borax and water to scrub the Barnwood.
How to get rid of mosquitos in firewood
If you have mosquitoes in your firewood, there could be moisture problems.
After it rains, it’s possible that rainwater is collecting somewhere between the logs and puddles are forming. Remember that mosquitoes require stagnant water to deposit eggs and hatch larvae.
They only need a tiny amount of water to lay eggs- so if you have any stagnant water collecting somewhere, this is a possible reason why you could have mosquitoes in your firewood.
Even if it doesn’t rain, think about other water sources from sprinklers, condensation, or even morning dew.
They don’t naturally roost in wood, so there must be a water source nearby. You should check for any water sources nearby or water pooling in your firewood.
Avoid using mosquito repellent sprays on your logs because it may be released into the air when you burn the logs. Always tarp your firewood to protect it from rain. Check for runoff from nearby water streams.
How to get rid of woodworms in firewood
Wormwood is a known pest to live in firewood and lumber piles.
The signs of woodworms are small holes in soft thinnings. This is similar to other wood borers.
Ash seems to attract woodworm and you’ll notice that larger batches of woodwork seem are prone to wormholes.
You can control the degree of woodworm infestation by having smaller batches of lumber spread out in your yard.
Don’t keep huge piles of wood. But rather, spread them out and treat them individually.
This helps stop wood borers from infesting nearby firewood. Wormholes and woodworms are very common and most lumber will have them.
You’ll have to treat them by baking, heating, or freezing if you want to prevent future worm infestations. If you’re just storing wood for use in your fireplace, stove, or furnace, it’s not really a big problem.
However, if you’re a carpenter or woodworker, you may want to protect your wood from worms by treating them with a preventive spray like Timbor.
Woodworms are common throughout the warmer months from May-July.
The holes are made by the adult beetle exiting and leaving the wood, NOT from the worm digging into it. This is why you rarely notice worms entering the wood.
The worms turn into beetles and eat their way out of the wood, which results in the woodworm holes. Woodworm stays in the wood for about 3-5 years before coming out and is a prevalent pest. If the conditions are prime for a worm infestation, they’re hard to control and eliminate completely.
However, unlike other wood borers, ants, and termites, you can safely bring woodworm infested lumber into your home as the worm won’t leave the wood.
Woodworms can live in both dry and wet wood, and they prefer softer woods like spruce, cedar, pine, oak, ash, and mahogany.
Damp wood is easier for them to chew through and furniture beetles will eat through it to lay eggs, which gives rise to worms. Woodworms come from beetles, which infect both soft and hardwoods.
Can woodworms spread from firewood?
Woodworms will spread from log to log as they’re wood-boring pests.
They’ll quickly infest any wood given the conditions are right. Most wood will eventually get holes from these worms and they’re difficult to control.
However, you can prevent them by using a preventive solution. Or you can kill woodworms using heat.
Simply heating the wood to 140F for a few hours will kill the worms and any eggs left by the adult beetles.
Can you burn wood with woodworms?
It’s also safe to burn wood that’s infested with woodworms.
There are no negative consequences from doing so. The fire will kill the beetle or worms that are living inside the log.
Can woodworms spread from furniture?
Yes, woodworms can spread from infected furniture.
The adult beetles chew through both softwood and hardwood and eat a variety of wood types. Furniture that has woodworms can spread to nearby wooden objects if the conditions are right.
How to get rid of spiders in a woodpile
If you have spiders in hiding in your firewood, they can be a pain to deal with because spiders will bite when they feel threatened. They’re also fast and hard to spot.
Many spiders are attracted to the nooks and crannies offered by lumber, and the fact that firewood attracts other bugs which are a food source for spiders. So firewood provides them with both food and a place to live.
Keep your woodpiles rotated
You can stop spiders from infesting your wood by keeping it off the ground and keeping it tarped.
Rotating the logs often and FIFO’ing them will help stop them from creating a web. If their environment is constantly disturbed, they’re less inclined to set up shop and stay there.
By cleaning out the logs and burning them often, you also burn any spider eggs that they may have deposited in your woodpile.
Remember to always check the lumber before bringing the pest into your home or else you risk letting a spider loose.
There’s not much that you can do to prevent spiders from getting into your logs since they’re expert climbers and can fit into tight squeezes. Just rotating and using up your lumber often will help repel them.
Be sure to wear long-sleeved clothing and protective gloves to shield yourself from potential spider bites.
Attract things that eat spiders
This may also help keep them in check.
How to fumigate firewood
You can fumigate firewood if the insect infestation is out of control.
There are many products on the market that allow you to treat your firewood- the most common are borate mixes which penetrates deep into the wood to kill bugs.
You’ll have to follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully. Note that some wood can’t be burned after it’s been fumigated because it can release harmful compounds into the air.
Systemic pesticides can also be used that have been certified, but it’s expensive and an extensive process.
Sometimes it’s easier to just dispose or burn the infested firewood and start over.
Here are some other handy resources you may find useful:
Did you get rid of the bugs in your firewood?
By now, you should have everything you need to know to get started to eliminate the pests hiding in your woodpile.
You should be able to control, manage, and keep the bugs away. For good.
Keeping a clean and organized lumber pile is the key.
Always practice good habits like “first in first out” and rotate your logs. Keep it off the floor and tarp the firelogs. Constantly check for bugs and dispose of infested ones quickly.
Burn, freeze, or treat infested pieces to kill the bugs hiding in the wood. This is all it takes!
If you have any questions, post a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Let me know if this guide was helpful =].
Or if you’re an experienced arborist, leave some tips for your fellow readers!
Thanks for reading!
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.