Published on 11/01/12

Uninvited guests can hitch a ride inside on firewood

By Merritt Melancon

It’s sweater weather again, and that means Georgians are going to be building fires in their fireplaces and at campsites.

As you gather up the wood for your fire, remember those perfectly seasoned logs may still be home to all sorts of six and eight legged friends.

Storing firewood inside the house can bring ants, spiders, roaches and even millipedes indoors.

Bringing the woods inside with you

People often notice an increased number of ants, spiders and roaches crawling across their living room floors after bringing firewood inside the house.

“It doesn’t mean that your house is infested, it just means you brought them in with fire wood,” said Brian Forschler, an entomologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “There’s no reason to treat inside your house with insecticides to get rid of them; you probably just need to leave your wood outside until its time to use it in the fire.”

These insects likely won’t start nests inside your house unless you leave a pile of wood on your hearth for a long period of time, but they could show up as uninvited guests at your next holiday party.

The termites you carry in on a piece of firewood also don’t pose much of a threat if you burn it shortly after bringing it inside.

Wood stored on the ground outside the house can attract termites, but it’s very unlikely those termites will set up a new nest in your house unless you leave your woodpile in place for several years, Forschler said.

A bigger, or more immediate, worry with outdoor woodpiles is that it can quickly become home to four-legged and no-legged pests like mice and snakes, that can make their way inside to stay warm on cold nights.

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension before joining Terry College.

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