Firewood with termites!?!
January 30, 2014 2:01 PM   Subscribe

I have had a few logs of firewood sitting on a rug beside my fireplace for the past few hours. I shuffled some, added one to the fireplace and noticed a few very small white wormy/bugs.

I took the other logs back outside, away from the house and threw as many of the logs as I could into the fire. Major assumption they are termites since these logs have been sitting in a woodpile for a year or more, PLUS, we spotted termites eating away at a doorframe a week ago (we are getting that fixed this weekend). Stupid move, I should not have brought all the wood into the house, hindsight...

So I'm pretty sure they are termites. I wiped the tiled hearth. We have hardwood floors that I also wiped down. I was on hands and knees with a flashlight checking. Any tips on how to ensure that I got all the grimy wood-eating bastards from inside my house?!?! I'm kind of freaking out.

Thanks very much!
posted by foxhat10 to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
I wouldn't worry about them having come in the house for a few hours. In the future, maybe bring them in when you're ready to burn them right away. The only thing that would concern me is if the woodpile outside were up against my home. If it is, I'd move it away and have an exterminator come check to make sure they hadn't made inroads into the house.
posted by cecic at 2:09 PM on January 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're overreacting a bit. Termites don't spread everywhere like an infection or just chomp any wood they happen to come into contact with. Bringing termites inside is not like lighting your drapes on fire. Termites require a termite-friendly environment. Your dry, varnished hardwood floors and painted moldings, far from the damp ground, aren't that.
posted by jon1270 at 2:10 PM on January 30, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Well, you guys definitely have made me feel more at ease. Thanks!
posted by foxhat10 at 2:20 PM on January 30, 2014

First of all, grubs and larval insects of all descriptions eat and live in dead wood, so the assumption they were termites isn't a good one unless you find one and confirm its identity. Second, the white termites you see eating wood are not the reproductive caste, and cannot mate or lay eggs in your house to establish a colony. Termites that can reproduce are the winged alates (remember that word, it tends to pop up in crossword puzzles) which look a little like ants with wings.
posted by pullayup at 2:22 PM on January 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's also helpful to think of the termite colony, rather than individual termites, as the invasive organism. Isolated larvae are not capable of forming a new colony - termites are more specialized than that.
posted by flabdablet at 2:27 PM on January 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

we spotted termites eating away at a doorframe a week ago
Any tips on how to ensure that I got all the grimy wood-eating bastards from inside my house?!?!

The bugs you saw in the firewood might or might not be termites. You can look for pictures of bugs online.

The bigger issue here is that you already have termites eating your house!

we are getting that fixed this weekend

I'm guessing you are just having the doorframe replaced?

There may well be more where you can't see them.

You should get a termite inspection, the sort people have when they are buying a house. It will probably cost around $80-$100. If you have a termite problem, you can have the whole house treated. This involves putting your house in a large tent and you leaving for a while.

Firewood should be stored away from your house, elevated off the ground, and covered from rain. If you do have a termite problem, unless you are using your fireplace for basic heat (not that fireplaces do an efficient job of that, but you gotta do what you gotta do) or cooking I'd personally get rid of the firewood altogether.
posted by yohko at 5:01 PM on January 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I read a while ago that you are at no danger at all of termites from firewood infesting your house. I can't find the original link, but a brief google search finds me the following quotes:
If I bring firewood into my home which has termites in the timber, will these termites damage my home?
No! Subterranean termites need to maintain a link to the nest and will generally die soon after they are separated from their links to the nest.
From a different site:
If I bring firewood into my house full of termites are they going to and attack the house?
NO. Subterranean termites cannot live independent of the galleries that lead back to their nesting site. Termites depend on each other for survival and require access to their nesting site for protein.
And from a third site:
termites on firewood brought inside are unlikely to cause an infestation as the queen will not be located in surface timber and workers isolated from their nest will die
These are all sites that showed up on the first page of my google search for "termites firewood".
posted by lollusc at 7:02 PM on January 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

worms or bugs ? Because, not to get all pedantic, there's a big difference.

Where in the wood were they ? If it was near the bark, and it was a white worm, that's a borer larvae, and I find them in my firewood all the time, and are no danger to the house (other than the ick factor..)
posted by k5.user at 6:42 AM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

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