May 8, 2020 - 10:54am --

Watch Out for Termites When Cutting Firewood!

By Jerry Iles, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Fairfield County

It is early May and I am still firing up my wood burning stove on chilly nights. Recently a tree was cut down on our land and it was mostly hollow and full of termites! (see photos)

picture of a termite infested log

“In Ohio and in most other parts of the United States, subterranean termites are the most common type of termites that infest homes. These termites need moisture to survive. They are closely associated with the soil, where they typically construct an underground nest or a series of interconnected nests, hence the name "subterranean termites." The termites excavate narrow tunnels through the soil, creating a network through which they can travel very long distances (hundreds of feet or more) to reach food. They also transport soil above ground to construct mud tubes (shelter tubes) and to line their feeding galleries in wood. Soil serves as a source of moisture that helps protect termites from the drying effects of air. It also shields termites from predators (ants, birds, lizards, etc.) that feed on them.” (S. Jones-OSU)

The last thing you want to inadvertently do is stack firewood that is infested with termites near or directly against a wall of your house. Some experts recommend stacking firewood 20-30 feet from the house. All agree that your firewood should be elevated off the ground and stacked in a manner to encourage air flow to help dry the wood. I use pallets and replace them as they decay. Big box stores usually have an ample supply and give them away. wood stacked on a palletTermites can do a significant amount of damage to a home including expensive structural damage. Professional remediation is almost always required for a termite infestation.

Stack termite damaged wood far away from the house. I use mine for outside campfires.

Every spring I get clients bringing flying ants into the Extension office and are convinced it is a termite. How can I tell a termite from a flying ant? The easiest feature for me is flying ants have a segmented body that is narrow in the middle (abdomen) that to me simply looks like an ant with wings. Check out this simple comparison graphic provided by Orkin pesticide service below.

Comparison photos of a Termite versus a Flying Ant

Source – Orkin Pesticide Service