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So you found yourself a nice load of wood, someone was even nice enough to buck it up for you. You’re not sure why the tree had been taken down, the wood all looks great.
There’s no sign of rot or dead limbs anywhere. The foliage has all been taken away and even the stump has been ground down already.
You load the rounds into your truck, trailer or your wife’s Subaru Forester and off you go. You get home and start to unload the wood from where ever you have it and you notice a couple of huge carpenter ants.
When you’re talking about rats, the rule is for every one you see, there are at least ten more nearby.
When you’re talking about carpenter ants, you can multiply that by at least a hundred.
The wood looks good so far, so where did those black creepy crawlies come from?
It’s not until you start splitting the wood that you find your answer. The core of your perfect firewood is completely gone, there’s nothing but black rotten mush and hundreds of carpenter ants.
Luckily for you it’s not throughout the whole tree, just the few thicker rounds nearest to the bottom.
The people who downed the tree had obviously removed all the evidence of the infestation. So what do you do with the pieces that are full of little black eating machines?
There are all kinds of ideas out there, everything from spraying with poison, drowning, burning or even actually just ignoring them until it’s time to stack.
Here’s my first choice, as long as it’s only a handful of rounds, I drown them.
I split the wood as per normal, but the inner pieces that have the ants inside I throw in an old fish tote near my wood pile. I just pick up the infested pieces and toss them into the water filled container. Any old drum will do. Add a few cups of vegetable oil <—CLICK HERE—THIS IS AN AFFILIATE LINK —HELP SUPPORT OUR BEER FUND to your water and within about 10 minutes there’s not an ant left inside the wood.
If I have more than enough wood to fill my tote, I just take a break from splitting for a few minutes. Maybe I’ll stack some clean stuff or take a few minutes to kill some of the ants around my splitter. Just 10 or 15 minutes and I reach into the tote to pull out the pieces.
I just give them a little shake and pop them out one by one. Sometimes the sheer amount of ants floating or trying to swim in the tote is just amazing. Not only do the ants abandon ship, but they are usually trying to save the eggs as well. So they even remove most of them for me too.
I’ll give each piece a quick look, but it’s been my experience that almost all of the ants will be out. If I come across a round or two that I can see for sure are infested I may even throw the full rounds in and leave them until all the clean stuff is split. I might even leave them over night if I’m not in a hurry.
As a rule, if I’m stacking any suspect wood, I will sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth <—CLICK HERE—THIS IS AN AFFILIATE LINK —HELP SUPPORT OUR BEER FUND on every couple of rows as I’m stacking.
What is Diatomaceous Earth you ask? It’s an all natural product made from crushed sea fossils that actually scratches the outer shell which causes them to die of dehydration. The little bugs don’t even know it’s happening to them, they just walk through the stuff and it starts working on their outer shells.
It’s safe for you and all your pets, just don’t breath it in while you’re sprinkling it on your wood, it’s a very fine powder and you don’t want in your lungs.
It takes a couple of days to work, but it’s amazing. You can find it at any home improvement or garden center and of course like everything else now a days, it can be found online (SEE OUR AFFILIATE LINK ABOVE)
So no need to panic and throw away your wood, just take the time to rid yourself of those nasty little buggers. This product also works on termites, pill bugs, earwigs and fleas.
Other types of unwanted tenants in your wood pile are mice and rats. It’s almost inevitable that these furry little monsters will be nesting in or under your nice dry firewood pile.
Its just too good to be true for them, you actually built them a large sheltered area with all kinds of nooks and holes for them to nest in.
I like to feed mine about every two weeks but even once a month seems to control them. I use a product called Hombre Mini Blocks <—NOT AN AFFILIATE LINK—, made in Milwaukee. It comes in a 5kg tub of blocks. Each block is about an 1.5″ square.
I toss them between the wood rows, unless the wood is single file up against a wall or such, then I just toss them between the wood and the wall. I toss about 1 for every 10 feet of wood. These delicious little blocks will wipe out your rats like nothing you’ve seen before.
One of the cool things about these little rodents that they love to take their food home and share it with the rest of the family. It’s main ingredient is difethialone, which is an anticoagulant. If you’re worried about cats or dogs, you can place the block into bait holders for extra safety. Each block also has a hole in the center for nailing or tying in place. This ensures the blocks won’t be carried away if you so choose.
My dog has never managed to squeeze between two rows of firewood so I think it’s a pretty safe place to put the blocks. If you’re opposed to poisons for whatever reasons, then there are also dozens of traps out there as well. There are also dozens of home made devices all of which seem to do the job quite well.
Some folks do nothing about these little critters, for whatever humane reason they may have and that’s great for those people. I really don’t like rat poop all over the place, especially in my house as it inevitably will be.
Dried out rat crap can be a serious health issue, not to mention having to deal with your wife when she puts her finger on a big fat rat turd that’s stuck to the piece of wood she just picked up. That reason alone is enough for me to want to keep the problem to a minimum.