By: Eric Paulsen, Clark Pest Control
Or Firewood Pests:
Last night my wife cried something to the effect of "What is this giant wasp doing in my living room?!" I glanced up and sure enough there was large black wasp more than an inch long with an ovipositor almost as long as her body flying around our living room. No worries I casually said as I watched our two cats jumping up onto furniture, trying to get at this invader into their territory. "It is going to sting me or the cats! Do something!" - "It won't sting anyone" I causally responded. "But look at that giant stinger" was my wife's worried reply. "It won't sting anyone" was my reply again. Still not satisfied with my answer she asked a very good question: "Well where did it come from, I hate those things!"
"The firewood" I said smiling to myself remembering that I have been meaning to write a short article for the Clark Blog about these pests of firewood.
For purposes of this blog I will break them into three groups, not listed necessarily in order of importance:
I will first address a group of pests which are probably the least concern from my perspective, but of biggest concern in the eyes of my wife and of many other homeowners: The wild and scary wasps and beetles that can emerge from firewood when you bring it into your warm home. The most common among this group of pests include a variety of wood-wasps, and a host of beetles ranging from the beautiful metallic wood borers and other Buprestidae beetles, the long horn and round head wood borers of the Cerambycidae family, and the Black Polycaon of the Bostrichid family. The good news is that generally these wood destroying pests do not re-infest homes. Without going into too much boring biology, what happens is when you bring your firewood into your house many of these pests will sense the warmth and emerge. Last night a fierce-some wood wasp emerged; the female has a long ovipositor which is used to lay eggs. These wasps are big, noisy, ugly and intimidating with their large ovipositor, but these wasps will neither sting you, nor will they re-infest structures.
While generally these scary looking pests which emerge from firewood will not re-infest structures, there are some smaller and less intimidating looking beetle species (beetles in the Lyctidae and Anobiidae families for example) which have the potential to emerge from firewood and infest structures or their contents.
The second group of pests are subterranean termites: (Dampwood termites can infest your wood pile if it gets damp enough) We have a couple of different species of subterranean termites which attack firewood and structures in California and Nevada. To minimize the risk both to your firewood and to your home, firewood should be stored and stacked off the ground and away from the structure. Firewood stacked immediately next to your home adds the threat of potentially promoting and sustaining active colonies in close proximity to your valuable home.
The third group of pests are carpenter ants: Like subterranean termites carpenter ants are pests of both firewood and structures. Carpenter ants don't actually eat the wood like subterranean termites, but rather carpenter ants like to live inside the wood and will develop large complex galleries in firewood and in lumber.
The last group of pests I will briefly address today are the host of pests which like to live in and around firewood: Firewood can harbor rodents, spiders, scorpions and other pests. Care should be taken when handling firewood as not to come into contact with these pests, and again stacking wood next to your home provides harborage for these pests in such proximity to your home as to increase the likelihood of these pests migrating from your wood-pile into your living spaces.
While it is impossible to guarantee that you won't bring any pests into your home with your firewood, your licensed Clark Pest Control wood destroying pests and organisms inspector can assist you in managing these pests in a host of ways: helping you pick the best location to put your wood pile, addressing any carpenter ant and other pest problems around your wood pile. If you are worried that these pests may have infested your structure your licensed Clark representative can inspect your home and offer appropriate controls if necessary.
So what happened to the wasp in my living room you ask? Did I leave my poor wife hanging? For the record, I attempted to knock the wasp to the ground so the cats could play with it, and the wasp landed in a large box full of presents waiting to be wrapped. The cats jumped into the box after the wasp and spent the better part of 30 minutes digging through that box till the found and killed the wasp. Who am I to deny my cats the enjoyment of hunting and killing a giant wasp!