Termites in firewood (Signs of termites in lumber piles & what to do)

FAQs

Termites in firewood can sneak into your home without you realizing it. Termites are tiny, destructive creatures that can not only destroy entire homes but entire neighborhoods. These insects love old rotten wood, trees, and structures because these provide them with food and nourishment.

However, this creates a bad situation for us humans- especially those of us who live in old homes and neighborhoods where there are many old houses. If termites find their way into one home in the neighborhood, there is a good chance they will try to get into other homes as well. 

Not only do termites eat away at old buildings, but they are also attracted to old dried-out firewood that many of us use to keep homes warm during cold fall and winter months.

Do you ever stack your firewood near your house so it’s nice and close? Have you ever stacked firewood on your porch? If you do, you may want to reconsider… 

We will get to why in a moment but first it is important to learn a little bit more about termites. Understanding termites and their behaviors can go a long way if you are trying to keep them at bay.

If you have a specific question, free to skip to a specific section via the table of contents. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, leave a question in the comments below this article and I’ll do my best to answer it.

What are termites exactly?

There are several different types of termites on the planet, but they all mainly love the same kind of habitat, which is anywhere there are dead plant materials such as wood, leaf litter, soil, and animal dung. Termites are a type of detritivores that mainly live in the subtropical and tropical regions of the world since they typically love warmer drier climates.

These pests are difficult to rid of once they begin causing damage in areas because their colonies are way underground inside the tunnels they build that can go for miles and miles. Each colony is made up of all kinds of self-organized systems, which include nymphs, soldiers, workers, reproductive insects, and egg-laying queens.

These tiny pests are similar in appearance to ants but clear in color with six legs, antennas, long bodies, and round heads. Some of the insects even have wings and pinchers to chew away at the old rotted plant material so they can feed themselves.

Why are termites attracted to firewood piles?

Termites eat at firewood piles because firewood is dead plant material that contains cellulose. This dead plant material is usually filled with other dead plant materials such as fungi, leaves, twigs, moss, and even fecal matter from animals. If termites are attacking your firewood, it is simply because of these reasons. 

However, finding termites in firewood typically only occurs if you cut down a termite-infested tree, build your firewood pile over a termite colony hidden underground or stack the pile near a termite-infested area. 

The best way to prevent termites from consuming your firewood piles is by making sure you cut down trees for firewood that do not contain termites and stack your woodpiles in some place where termites are infesting or building a colony.

Can termites infest my home if I stack my firewood indoors?

It is typical in colder climate areas for people to stack their woodpiles inside their homes to prevent the wood from becoming wet and cold during the fall and winter months. Unfortunately, doing this can invite termites into your home during the winter because you can accidentally carry them in on the firewood.

The good news is that termites will not live very long and will not be able to infest your home. This is because termites cannot live long without their colonies and being close to their nest.

Video showing how to construct your own termite-proof firewood storage rack

It is hard for them to travel long distances safely and stay alive when they are several feet from their living area. However, if you stack your firewood inside your home near a sandy crawlspace area where the pest has easy access to old wooden beams and a tunnel channel back to their colony then it is possible for them to begin chewing at the structure of your home.

This is why it is always best to stack wood in concrete basements only free from water damage or cracks in their foundation and that is kept very dry. Even stacking your wood on top of tarps outside or in newly made woodsheds constructed from metals, plastics, or wood can keep your firewood safe from termites.

What are some of the ways to tell if termites have infested firewood?

The main way you can tell if termites have infested your firewood pile is by inspecting the wood. You can look for the following: termite droppings (these look like wood shavings or dust), chew marks that look like little tunnel holes, hollowness, easy crumbling of the wood, and sawdust piles near or around your firewood pile. 

Sometimes you will even be able to see the insects coating the inside of the wood or crawling all over it if an infestation is occurring. However, sometimes, it is hard to spot these insects. If you are lucky, hearing them chew in the evening within the woodpile is also possible, but very unlikely.

End notes for dealing with termites in firewood

Remember, always inspect a tree for termite damage before cutting it down and using it for firewood. This will prevent the probability of tree termite infestations migrating into your home, shed, or deck.

Always stack your wood piles on top of tarps (or ideally up off the ground on cinder blocks or something similar), inside concrete dry crack basements, or in woodsheds. Doing so will prevent termites from infesting your firewood so you can safely use it during the cooler months.

4 thoughts on “Termites in firewood (Signs of termites in lumber piles & what to do)”

  1. Hi I’ve just brought some wood home from my sisters house who just cut down a tree. When I was splitting the firewood I found some termites. Do I need to dispose of the wood or will they die off?

    Reply
    • Hi Michael, this is a tough call. If the termites in the wood you split are separated from their queen termites, they should die off. It’s difficult to determine where the queen resides, though, so bringing any termite-infested firewood into your home creates some risk of them migrating into your home, even if small. Typically, there will be many worker and soldier termites near a queen, so if you noticed an abnormally large quantity of termites in one portion of the split wood (relative to the others), you might discard that wood by burning it outdoors.

      Termite alates (winged termites) can also establish new colonies, but they’re easy to recognize in firewood since they have wings.

      You’re best bet is to make sure you stack your firewood off the ground (many folks use cinder blocks) so you don’t attract subterranean termites to it (if they live in your region). And store the majority of your firewood well away from your home and monitor it for continued termite activity. You might spray paint a dot on the pieces you split and separate them from pieces where you didn’t notice any termites. Then you could inspect the painted pieces of firewood. The lifespan of worker and soldier termites is around one year. I’d expect they’d die off quicker than that, though, without the support of their colony.

      Reply

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