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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

How to avoid 'winter visitors'

Thursday, October 29, 2009

All summer long, many have put off thinking about what they might be doing this winter for heat.

Due to the high fuel costs, some have thought about heating their homes with firewood. If that is the case, there is some important information that needs to be relayed about moving, cutting and preparing firewood for burning this winter because of possible firewood pests that might enter your home.

Most firewood pests pose no direct threat structurally to your home, its contents, or people in your home. However, some insects can cause damage or at least be a nuisance. There is no need to worry about the insects crawling out immediately upon bringing wood into the house since they are often dormant during the winter. Instead, they need several days of warmth to come out of dormancy. Therefore, it is important to know what insect species to be on the lookout for this winter.

Wood boring beetles and flathead borers can both be found in wood. The difference is that wood boring beetles often emerge during mid-winter once the larva has had a chance to warm up indoors. Flathead borers, like Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), typically emerge during the summer. One of the main reasons wood should never be transported from one location to another is because of EAB. Currently, EAB is only a county or two away since Monroe County has now been classified as infested. If the wood has higher than normal moisture content, watch out for carpenter ants. Carpenter ants are common with wood that has been stored on the ground. Other insects that may hide or over winter in firewood include many spiders, small beetles, wood roaches, pill bugs, wasps, ants and small flies.

There are a lot of insects that may inhabit your firewood, but the good news is that none of the ones mentioned above will attack finished or seasoned wood in your home. Like the other insects, termites should not infest your structural wood. Therefore, you should not treat firewood for termites. However, having a termite inspection is a good idea if you store firewood around the yard not far from your home.

Some helpful guidelines about insects in firewood can be found in the Purdue Entomology publication E-67, titled, "Insects in Firewood." These guidelines include cut wood mid to late fall, bring firewood indoors as needed and do not stack wood up against a house or garage. A minimum of 3-feet should be maintained between the house or garage and the firewood stack. By only bringing in a couple of days worth of firewood into the house, you prevent the insects from warming up. It is important to note that firewood species have different moisture content, which allows some wood to be cut and burned within weeks while others need to be seasoned for several months. For example, oak and maple generally take months to season while ash takes a couple of weeks.

This winter, as it gets chillier outside, remember these helpful hints about firewood insects. Realize that they won't attack your finished or seasoned wood in your home and that you should not treat the firewood with insecticide. When cutting your wood, be safe and wear proper clothing, chaps, boots and hearing protection.

For more information about firewood insects, contact your local Purdue Extension Office by calling 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County.

If you would like to contact me directly, I can be reached at either of the two numbers listed or via e-mail at smith535@purdue.edu.

In the coming weeks there will be an Animal Emergency Management: Preparedness and Prevention Miniseries offered at the Purdue Extension Office in Clay County. The program will take place Nov. 10, Nov. 17 and Nov. 24, and will run from 6:30-8:30 p.m. It will provide a great chance to learn about important factors involved with being prepared for farm disasters. The miniseries will wrap up with an interesting case study related to a fire disaster. If you plan to attend, contact the Clay County office at 448-9041 by Nov. 6. Other upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Nov. 5 -- Area Indiana Beef Cattle Association Meeting, Putnam County Fairgrounds (6:30 p.m. Call 765-653-8411 to register by Nov. 3),

* Nov. 7 -- Forest and Wildlife Field Tour, Martinsville, 8:30 a.m. (call 765-342-1010 to register),

* Nov. 10 -- Bi-State Ag Farmland Lease Program (call 765-762-3231 to register by Nov. 4),

Nov. 10, Nov. 17, Nov. 24 -- Animal Emergency Management: Preparedness and Prevention Miniseries, Purdue Extension Clay County Office, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (RSVP by Nov. 6 by calling 448-9041),

* Nov. 20 -- Fall Achievement Program, Clay County, 7 p.m.,

* Nov. 24 -- Reality Store at Owen Valley Middle School,

* Dec. 8 -- Nuisance Wildlife, Purdue Extension Clay County Office, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (Cost $2 per person, RSVP by Dec. 1 by calling 448-9041), and

* Dec. 10 -- Income Tax Management for Farmers in 2009, Purdue Extension Clay County, 7:30-9:30 p.m. (RSVP by Dec. 1 by calling 448-9041).