So your firewood is infested with carpenter ants, wood boring beetles, and termites. Now what do you do with it? Do you have to throw all of your wood away, or can you burn insect infested wood?
It’s safe to burn insect infested wood, but don’t bring it inside your house without killing the bugs first. Boric acid based insecticides are non toxic and perfectly safe to use on firewood unlike traditional insecticides which can irritate the lining of your lungs and who knows how much damage.
So what else can I do if my wood is infested with insects? Keep reading to find out how to prevent, kill, and burn insect infested firewood.
Can I Burn Wood With Bugs In It?
You can definitely burn wood with bugs in it, but you’ll want to kill them before bringing it into the house. Bugs burn like anything else once you put fire under their butts. It’s just extra fuel for the fire.
Problems only start to arise when moving firewood into your house. You don’t want to bring wood that’s infested with carpenter ants, termites, wood boring beetles, and every other insect into your home. Best case scenario is you have to squash a bunch of bugs. Worst case they cause loads of damage to your wall studs.
It’s not worth taking the risk when you can kill them with non toxic pesticides (my favorite). Boric acid based insecticides are non toxic to humans and pets. Eating it would cause the same amount of damage as table salt (so basically none).
Lets think about something else before we get into killing those pesky little critters. What caused the bug infestation in the first place? Either the bugs were in the tree before it was cut down or the wood isn’t properly stacked and you’re dealing with moisture damage.
I’ll explain how to properly stack/store wood to prevent bugs down at the bottom of this post. You shouldn’t have to spend much money to make sure your wood is dry and insect free. A rack and cover will cost between $10-50 depending on which solution you choose.
Why Do Bugs Invade Firewood?
Bugs invade firewood that’s sustained water damage. They seek out the moisture and nutrients found in rotten wood to set up their nests. You can eliminate bugs just by keeping your wood dry.
Just raise the wood off the ground on a rack (pallets are free), cover it up with a tarp or cover, leave the sides exposed for air, and try to give the pile sunlight. You shouldn’t end up with bugs if you follow those 4 easy steps.
How Do You Kill Bugs In Firewood?
There are two main steps you’ll want to take to safely kill the bugs in your firewood. Use a boric acid based insecticide (Zap-A-Roach is my favorite) to kill them and work on drying out the wood to keep them from coming back. I’ll get into the drying part later.
Spray a little bit of the boric acid solution wherever you see bugs on the wood. It shouldn’t kill them immediately. It sticks to their exoskeleton and then they walk over top of their food supply. Once they infect the food, the colony will fall.
You may even have a box of boric acid powder under your sink. Have you ever heard of the kitchen cleaner Borax (this stuff)? That’s the same exact chemical that’s used in the ant and terrmite killer. You can actually turn regular old borax into a spray to get kill a wide variety of bugs.
Just make sure you get the concentration right. You want it to be strong enough to kill them, while allowing the bugs to get back to the nest and infect the food supply. They will keep coming back if you can’t kill the queen.
Don’t Spray Traditional Pesticides and Insecticides
It’s not worth screwing around with traditional pesticides and insecticides. Yes they will obviously kill the insects in your firewood, but they’re extremely toxic. You might be able to get away with burning pesticide covered wood outside, but it’s not worth it when boric acid is cheap and safe.
It’s not worth risking your families health to save a little money on non toxic chemicals. It’s the same reason why you don’t burn pressure treated lumber. Burning pesticide treated wood releases chemicals into the air which you end up breathing in. Who knows how much damage you’re doing to your lungs.
Plus it won’t be effective anyway since spraying pesticide on the outside of wood won’t reach pests nesting inside anyway. Don’t second guess yourself! Buy a bottle of Boric Acid Based Insecticide (my favorite) and get on with your life. The extra $3-4 for regular pesticides isn’t worth breathing in toxic chemicals.
How Do I Keep Bugs Out Of My Wood Pile?
If there’s lots of bugs in your firewood you’re probably dealing with a moisture problem. That almost always means you haven’t properly stacked and seasoned your firewood. All the extra moisture leads to rot which draws in bugs. So how do you season wood?
Seasoning wood isn’t difficult once you understand a few basic principles. You need to get your wood up off the ground, cover up the top of your stack, allow airflow to get in through the sides, and try to get lots of sunlight. Give the wood at least 6 months to season to get the best results.
There’s no excuse for not putting your firewood on a rack and covering it up. All you need to do is get the wood up off ground a few inches. You can get pallets for free and I’m sure you have a few cheap tarps laying around. It would cost cost $10 at most for a basic rack/cover setup.
Personally, I would build/buy a small firewood rack. I really like the firewood rack brackets (I bought these) that you use with pressure treated 2x4s. They’re cheap and you can screw a rack together in less than 5 minutes. It might cost more than making a rack from scratch, but you can swap boards out after they look like junk in 5-10 years.
You also need to cover up the top of the wood using a tarp or firewood cover. Make sure you leave the sides opened to promote airflow. I own a few of the REDCAMP Firewood Covers and I really like them. It’s so nice to be able to unzip a cover instead of fooling around with a tarp and straps.
Determine If It’s Worth Salvaging Your Wood
If your wood is rotten and filled with insects it might not be worth salvaging. Rotten wood is generally safe to burn, but it doesn’t produce a good fire. The wood is usually wet so you end up with a smoldering, smoky mess, that doesn’t produce a lot of heat.
Rotten wood is better than no wood, but you need to determine if it’s worth saving. When it comes to firewood, I live by a simple rule. It goes in the fire as long as I can pick the wood up without crumbling.
Wood that’s so far gone that it’s falling apart needs to be disposed of. You set it out in the woods to naturally compost or take it to a landfill to be disposed of. You might want to check out my post that explains how to get rid of rotten firewood.