Firewood is a great source of warmth and ambience, but it can also be a problem for pests. The right storage techniques can keep your woodpile termite-free and ready for use year-round.
First, you should always stack your logs correctly and away from the foundation of your home. This will help keep termites out of the woodpile and prevent them from transferring to your home.
Understanding termites and their habits
Termites live off of wood that contains cellulose, which is a kind of natural sugar found in plant cells. The bacteria and protozoa that live in their stomachs help them digest cellulose and provide the nutrition they need to survive.
Depending on the species, termites can thrive on dry wood or damp wood. Subterranean termites, which are the most common type in the United States, build their colonies underground and create mud tubes that lead from their nests to above-ground food sources.
While termites can eat almost any kind of wood, they prefer materials that contain a high percentage of cellulose. This can include lumber, shingles, siding, and even plywood.
The key to preventing an infestation of termites is ensuring that their primary sources of food, water, and privacy are not within your home. They’re attracted to areas where they can find a steady supply of these things.
To avoid termites from entering your woodpile, you need to make sure that your firewood is stored far away from your house. Ideally, you’ll want to store it in a shed or garage with a concrete foundation. This will prevent it from touching the soil, which termites prefer.
Another thing you can do to help keep termites out of your home is to ensure that your gutters aren’t collecting rainwater near your house. This helps keep termites from building their colonies in your home’s walls and floors.
If you notice termite frass, a sticky substance that looks like sawdust, on your deck or anywhere else in your home, it’s likely that termites have already invaded. If you suspect termite damage, call a pest control professional for an inspection and to eliminate the problem before it gets worse.
Tips for selecting firewood
Firewood is a staple for many backcountry and off-the-grid people, and winter is the perfect time to gather and stack wood for the coming season. But with firewood, comes a risk: Firewood can become infested with termites or other pests.
To prevent firewood from becoming infested, you should choose high-quality wood. Typically, hardwoods such as oak, hickory and maple are more resistant to termites than softwoods like pine or apple.
You should also try to keep your wood dry. This will make it less attractive to pests and easier to burn.
You can store your firewood on a rack that elevates it several inches off the ground or use concrete blocks or bricks to prevent it from touching the ground. The elevated wood will keep it from absorbing too much moisture, which some species of termites prefer.
One of the easiest ways to detect a termite infestation is to look for holes in your firewood pile. Termites burrow into the wood and eat the cellulose within it.
They then leave holes behind, forming tubes that help them travel from log to log. These tunnels can be difficult to see without a microscope, but if you spot one or two, it is a good sign that there are termites in the woodpile.
Other signs of termite infestations include mud tubes and sightings of termite swarmers flying around the wood. These signs will be more visible in the spring and summer months when they often swarm.
If you are unable to keep your firewood dry, you can use diatomaceous earth or nematodes to kill any termites infesting it. This is safe for pets and humans, and it can be spread on and around the firewood as a protective barrier.
Proper storage techniques to help prevent infestation
Termites love to consume items that are made of cellulose, which means that anything with a wood-like structure could be at risk for infestations. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help prevent the threat of a termite infestation from affecting your property.
- Be sure to store your wood pile well away from the foundation and the soil around your home. Keep the pile at least 18 inches above ground level to prevent subterranean termites from accessing it.
- If you have a basement or crawlspace, be sure to keep the space well-ventilated. This will reduce the amount of moisture that termites can enter your building to feed and nest.
- Check for any gaps around water or gas pipes that could lead to termite invasions. Seal these cracks with caulk or foam sealant.
- Install a barrier treatment that repels termites and kills them when they get inside your home. This is a very effective way to prevent termite damage, but it requires an annual inspection by a trained pest management professional.
- Use termite bait stations to target these pests before they have a chance to infest your house. These stations are easy to install and can be very effective in preventing termite damage.
Termites can cause major damage to your home, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. To do this, you can follow the tips outlined above and do regular inspections of your property.
Natural repellents to keep termites away from the pile
Using natural repellents to keep termites away from your woodpile can be a great way to save money and avoid the use of toxic chemicals. However, it should be noted that many of these methods aren’t as effective as pesticides, don’t last as long and can be more difficult to apply.
The best thing to do is to rely on professional extermination services for help, especially if you’ve already been stung by a termite or if your home is severely infested. If you are a DIY-er, you can try some of the methods below.
One of the easiest but most effective is to create a termite trap by placing wet cardboard in an area that you suspect might have termites. Cardboard is attractive to termites because it contains cellulose, which they love to eat.
Another simple but effective method is to mix a small amount of boric acid with water and spray it on the areas that you think might have termites. Boric acid is a common ingredient in laundry soaps and can kill termites quickly and effectively.
Neem oil is another effective termite repellent that you can apply to wooden furniture and walls. It’s a naturally toxic substance that affects the hormones of termites, so it prevents them from laying eggs and spreading the infestation.
Vetiver grass has also been shown to be an effective termite deterrent in some studies. This plant originates from India and has a deep root system that termites find repulsive.
There is some evidence that catnip can also be an effective termite deterrent. Research shows that if you mix essential catnip oil with sandy soil, it can prevent termite tunnelling and in higher concentrations, kill termites.
Keeping your woodpile from becoming overrun with termites can be a challenge, but taking the necessary precautions such as regular inspections and proper maintenance of your woodpile can help prevent an infestation. Using treated firewood or storing your wood on elevated platforms off the ground is the best prevention for keeping termites away.