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University of Illinois Extension

Use Dry, Local Firewood

October 29, 2012

University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator Nancy Pollard offers some steps to take that will ensure your firewood is in the best condition.

"Purchase firewood from local sources and store it outdoors, shielded from rain," Pollard recommended. "A simple tarp or an open shed prevents wood from becoming damp and invaded by wood-decaying fungi. Bring firewood inside a few days before use to avoid bringing unwanted insects into the home."

Sometimes carpenter ants are found on firewood. Workers in this group are some of the largest ants commonly seen -- about 1/8 to one-half inch long. They may be black, red, or brown, or a combination of these colors. While they appear to feed on wood, they only hollow out galleries already damaged by decay fungi.

"Keeping wood dry will minimize fungi and ants," she said. "Carpenter ants brought in on firewood will not cause structural damage to a home. Ant baits specific to this species can be used indoors if necessary."

In addition to ants, beetles may be found on firewood. They usually will not cause any damage to the home or need to be treated. If you find sawdust in the wood, it is likely caused by a beetle larva. Occasionally adult beetles, which are attracted to light, move out of the wood and toward nearby windows.

"While insects found in wood rarely result in structural problems in homes, movement of firewood over distances can spread infestations of insects that kill trees in the landscape and forests," Pollard said. "Buy firewood within 10 to 50 miles of where it is produced to avoid needlessly spreading insect infestations from one location to another.

"Many states have quarantines against moving firewood across state or even county lines," she added.

Source: Nancy Pollard, Extension Educator, Horticulture, pollard@illinois.edu

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