Termites in Firewood: How to Spot Them & What to Do - Backyard Boss
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Termites in Firewood: How to Spot Them & What to Do

If you store firewood to use in the colder months or to barbecue or cook outdoors with wood, you know the pain it can be to keep your firewood dry and free of pests. Some of the most notorious pests are termites. While termites are relatively harmless to people, these pesky critters can wreak havoc on outbuildings, trees, and your home. Nothing wooden is safe. 

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to protect your firewood and your home from termites—most of which are simple and won’t cost an arm and a leg. But it’s important to be vigilant, and practice prevention. Since paying for termite damage to your home can be costly, it’s best to make sure to keep your firewood well cared for so these pests can’t invade it and other wooden items within your yard. We’ll go over what to look for and, if you find termites in your firewood, how to get rid of them.

How to Spot Termites in Your Firewood

termite damage closeup

One of the first signs that there are termites within your firewood is the holes they leave behind. Termites like to burrow deep into the wood and eat the fibers. Termites will start to munch on one firewood log, then another, then another, and another. Before you know it, all your firewood is overrun with termites.

Termites don’t live in the logs, but they do love to eat the wood fibers, so you’ll notice in split logs the holes or burrows running throughout your firewood. If the infestation is particularly bad, you will be able to visibly see the termites crawling out and into the wood, looking for other avenues to start munching down. Termite holes are pretty easy to spot, and once you spot these holes, you’ll probably notice that they run in clusters of holes compared to just one or two holes.

Be Sure They’re Actually Termites

Busy Wasp chewing wood sting, wasp, black and yellow, jasper

Many pests burrow through wood, so make sure there are no other signs—like webbing or mud holes—that could mean you have a different kind of pest. Termites burrow through holes and will not make their homes within the wood itself. If you see a mud hole or a mud nest, this could indicate wasps. If you see webbing or egg sacks, this could indicate spiders or beetles. Once you know what kind of pest you have, you’ll know which steps to take to prevent another infestation or how to get rid of the current one.

Looking for Signs of Life in Old Firewood

If you bought new firewood that you notice has termite holes in it already, it’s probably not a big deal. Since termites live in the ground, they only come up to eat firewood. This means that no queen termite is living in the wood, so the existing termites will die off on their own eventually. However, if your firewood is old, odds are you have an infestation problem on your hands, and you should actively start to search your yard for other infestation spots. If you have an infestation of termites in old firewood, you’d need to kill the nest underneath the firewood in the ground. There is more than likely a colony living under the wood; for dwelling termites to be exterminated, the wood will need to be moved.

Termites Can Get into Your House Through Infested Firewood

Termites love wood, and since most houses are made of wood or at least a wooden frame, yes, termites can start to eat the wood of your house. For termites to get into your actual home, there would need to be a pretty big area of solely wood panels that the termites have been eating for a long while. Luckily, you can spot termites pretty quickly, especially if they are starting to chew up your home’s exteriors walls, so they can easily be eliminated before they make it all the way through.

termite damage to backyard deck from untreated termite infestation

Practice Caution and Preventive Measures

It’s not unusual for termites to make it inside the home and start eating furniture, but again, if you are usually at home and around your furniture, you should be able to catch them right away. If you have termites chomping down on your firewood and the firewood is leaning against the house, there is a higher chance for termites to make it inside your home by chewing through wooden walls. If you see termites eating your firewood, but the firewood is far away from your home, odds are they will not make it inside your house.

How to Get Rid of Termites in Firewood

Since termites need a queen to keep order and instruct the termites what to do, they will die if separated from their queen and home. If your firewood is new and you notice termite holes, the termites will die off on their own as they’ve already been moved. If you notice old wood with an infestation, that’s when you need to remove the termites yourself. You can start this by moving the wood to another location and treating the dirt. You can either call someone to treat the area with pesticide or use a store-bought pesticide. A solution of dish soap and water can be effective if the infestation is small.

best backpack sprayer wide featured man wears backpack sprayer to treat wooded area

Evasive Maneuvers for Pesticide-Free Termite Treatment

If you don’t want to exterminate the termites, try moving the infested wood far enough away from the current infestation so they will not move and infest your firewood again. If you move the wood, odds are the termites will disperse and find another area to feed on. If you live in a wooded area, it’s common for termites to find another wood piece that has fallen over or is in decay to feast upon. Either way, removing the infested wood is key to keep the termites at bay and prevent them from infesting your firewood a second time.

Can I Burn Firewood with Termites?

Technically, you can still burn firewood infested with termites. If you’ve treated the wood beforehand to get rid of termites, the wood is perfectly safe to burn. If you are planning on bringing firewood into your home infested with termites, this is a bigger chance of your home becoming infested with termites. To be safe, always be sure that the wood you intend to burn is free from termites, and if there was an infestation, make sure the wood was treated beforehand to get rid of them. 

Best Way to Store Firewood

The best way to store firewood and keep it termite free is by protecting the wood with either plastic coverings or building wood storage up off the ground and away from any walls. The best way to do this is by constructing wood storage with cinder blocks or any other type of brick so that the wood will not be touching the dirt ground, risking an infestation. Keeping your wood dry is another way to keep your firewood termite-free, so you can easily do this by using tarps. In summer months, any moisture in the wood will dry quickly and will also kill any pests.

 ax, sunny day, wooden logs, firewood, wooden axe handle, pile of trees, tree trunk, lumber, chores

You can easily construct your own secure firewood storage area using cinder blocks to line an area to keep the firewood off the ground. You can line up as many cinder blocks as you’d like and construct walls on the sides to ensure the wood will be supported. After you have a barrier between the wood and the ground, you can use the cinderblock walls and floor as a support to cover the firewood with a tarp.

This would be your best bet in protecting your firewood from termites, as they can’t burrow up into the wood from the ground, and the tarp covering will add extra protection to the wood. This will also keep the wood warm and dry, making it undesirable for bugs to burrow through and, if there are any existent termites in there, the heat from the tarp will kill them. With this kind of protective setup, you can easily store your firewood all year long without having to worry about a potential termite infestation. This kind of firewood storage will keep your wood dry, clean, and ready to use immediately.

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