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9 Foolproof Ways To Keep Pests Out Of Your Firewood

Bugs are fascinating creatures but nobody wants them in their home.  Unfortunately, uninvited pests can easily hitch a ride straight into our most cozy sanctuaries.  For those of you that burn lots of firewood, you know what I mean.  Ants, spiders, termites and even wasps get a free pass into our homes on firewood.  

Luckily, that doesn’t need to be the case.  You shouldn’t have to sacrifice warmth by the fire to avoid bugs in the house.  There are several effective ways to limit who you invite into your home and firewood pest are solidly on the “do not admit” list.  

Rid your firewood pile of pests with these 9 foolproof tactics that won’t let you down.

#1:  Keep your firewood off the ground

Nothing says “make yourself at home” to bugs like firewood stacked right on the ground.  Anytime wood is in contact with dirt, you are essentially giving unwanted pests easy access to their favorite food and nesting areas.  

Setup a better defense by elevating firewood off the ground.  Even stacking wood on top of a couple 2x4s is a big help.  However, racks specifically designed for holding firewood are the best solution.  Racks provide several inches of clearance between the ground and the wood.  That’s well out of reach for most pests.

#2:  Protect firewood from moisture

Moisture is enemy number one for any firewood stack.  A wet pile of wood starts to mold and rot which is like ringing a dinner bell for a whole host of wood eating insects.  If you are keeping your wood off the ground, then the battle is half won.  Now, just toss a waterproof cover over it to protect it from rain and snow.  Dry firewood is an unappetizing meal for most bugs.   

Be sure to avoid covering your firewood completely to the ground.  You still need some air to circulate through the stack.  For a stand alone stack of wood, covering the top third is sufficient to keep damaging amounts of moisture at bay.  A lean-to cover or wood shed is even better.

#3:  Stack firewood away from trees

Birds are not the only creatures that dwell in trees.  Plenty of insects find food and shelter among the limbs and roots.  Which means that stacking firewood in close proximity to trees is a bad idea.  It might be alright for temporary storage (less than a year) but eventually pests will find your stack of wood and move on in.  

Plus, leaves and other tree debris will pile up on your firewood creating an even more inviting home for bugs.  Insects invading your firewood from nearby trees is not the only concern either.  It works the other way around too.  If you source firewood from an outside location, you may inadvertently introduce damaging insects that hitched a ride into your own trees and landscaping.  

Just play it safe and keep your firewood at least 20 feet from the base of any trees.

#4:  Store firewood in a sunny location

We could all use a little sunshine and your firewood is no different.  The power of sunshine against pests in firewood is two fold.  It keeps moisture at bay and bombards insect larvae and eggs with a lethal dose of UV radiation.  

Before picking a place to stack firewood, make sure it’s a sunny location.  Not only will your wood season faster (if it’s green), it will also host fewer insects.  And pests that do find their way into your wood stack will find sun drenched wood less than hospitable.   

#5:  Remove debris before stacking firewood

No matter how you do it, cutting and splitting firewood is messy business.  But that doesn’t means stacking has to be messy too.  A fair bit of dirt, sawdust, bark chunks and plant debris will find its way onto your firewood at some point in the process.  Leaving all that junk attached during the stacking phase creates a couple problems.

First, all that debris settles down to the bottom of your wood pile, trapping moisture and encouraging ants, termites and spiders into finding a home.  In addition, a lot of that messy debris ends up in your home.  

Avoid that problem by removing as much excess debris as possible before stacking fresh cut firewood.  Sweep away dirt and loose bark with a hand broom or bang two pieces together before tossing them on the stack. 

#6:  Follow first-in-first-out burning

The basic idea of first-in-first-out is to burn the oldest firewood first.  Doing so prevents infestations from building up.  Wood that sits in one place too long is a safe harbor for pests.  Occasional reshuffling might be needed to keep a first-in-first-out rotation going but it’s worth the work.  Alternatively, try having several separate piles arranged from old to new.  Then, pull wood from the oldest pile first.  

#7:  Separate green and seasoned wood

Avoid adding fresh cut firewood to a stack of already seasoned wood.  Not only does it make it more likely that you’ll burn wet wood, you are also adding new bugs and more debris into your clean stack.  Anytime you cut up or bring home green firewood, there is a risk of introducing more pests into your yard.  It’s a good idea to stack new green wood in an isolated pile to season.   

#8:  Use a leaf blower on your wood pile

I know it sounds silly but taking a leaf blower to your wood piles provides a pretty good defense against pests trying to take up residence.  You certainly don’t need to buy a leaf blower just to clean your firewood.  However, if you have one and you are blowing leaves off the back patio, make a pass over your firewood.  Blasting away months worth of debris and dust does wonders to keep pests out.   

#9:  Create an insect repelling barrier

Sometimes nothing you do will keep bugs off your firewood.  Luckily, there is one last thing to try.  Create an insect repelling barrier around your firewood.  Just to be clear, you are not spraying firewood directly with insecticide (I’ll talk about why that’s a bad idea later).  Instead, you are applying insect repellent around the base of your firewood pile to keep bugs at bay.  

While I have yet to try this, several of my friends say it works wonders.  At the top of the recommendation list is Ortho Home Defense Insect Granules.  Simply sprinkle the granules around the base of your wood stack and you’re good to go for several months.    

How not to keep out pests

When firewood pests seem impossible to get rid of, you may be tempted to take drastic measures.  However, there are a few things you should never do to eliminate bugs or rodents from firewood.  Let’s see what they are. 

Chemical insecticide spray

If you thought spraying insecticides directly onto firewood seems like the most reasonable way to ensure complete pest eradication, you aren’t alone.  While I won’t deny that it probably is effective, you should never do it.

Burning chemically treated wood in your home poses some serious health risks.  Even if you spayed the wood months ago, many of the chemicals present in insecticides linger much longer than that.  Who knows what fumes might be created once it goes into the fire.         

Never store wood indoors

Maybe you could just store some firewood in your garage or next to the fireplace to avoid bugs?  Not so fast.  No matter how hard you try to remove insects from your firewood, there will be some that hide in the nooks and crannies.  Bringing them into your home won’t make them go away.  In fact, your warm home is an ideal environment   for promoting an infestation.  

Don’t believe me?  Check out my blog post about why storing firewood indoors is a bad idea.

Don’t stack wood against your house

Having a stack of firewood tucked under the eve right outside your back door is very convenient on a nasty winter day.  But you may get more than you bargain for.  As you are well aware, firewood is a magnet for insects and rodents.  Even if you follow all my tips, there is still a chance pests will find refuge in your firewood.  As a result, that stack of wood against the house ends up being the perfect gateway for pests to invade your home.  Always keep firewood stacked at least 20 feet from your home or garage.

Wrapping it up

Nobody likes bugs or rodents in their firewood but it is a fact of life.  While you won’t be able to completely eliminate pests, you can keep most of them at bay by following the tips I just shared.  

Want to further refine your wood stacking skills?  Need to find the ideal firewood rack for cleaner storage?  Be sure to check out my complete wood stacking guide.  It’s the most comprehensive guide out there and contains all the best tips from experienced firewood hoarders!