Sunday, February 22, 2009

Firewood Insects.

The fire is so delightful….until there are beetles flying around the den, the cat is chasing them, and the children are panic-stricken. It does not often occur to people that the stack of firewood on the hearth could be the source of the sudden appearance of insects indoors.

Chief among the consumers of dead wood are beetles of several families. The larvae bore in the wood, and adult beetles chew their way out when they have completed metamorphosis. The “painted hickory borer,” Megacyllene caryae, a member of the longhorned beetle family Cerambycidae, frequently emerges early when wood is stored indoors. Complicating the matter is that the insect is brightly marked in black and yellow, much like a wasp. It flies well, too.

Beetles of other families can pop out of logs and kindling, too. Deathwatch beetles in the family Anobiidae, jewel beetles (aka metallic woodborers) in the family Buprestidae, and bark and ambrosia beetles in the family Curculionidae (subfamily Scolytinae) also occur in dead, solid wood.

You need not worry, the beetles will not turn to structural beams in your house for their next feast. The adults don’t feed, and the females lay their eggs only in untreated wood. Further, their larvae can often survive only if their mother locates the right species of tree, at the right age of decay, with a certain moisture content, etc. So, relax. Go back to lounging in your favorite chair, delighting in the crackle and pop of the embers, and the warming flames.

Image courtesy of Kathy Shogren

1 comment:

  1. Hi Eric,

    I'm glad to see you've entered the bug blog realm, and especially pleased it took you no time at all to feature one of my favorite groups.

    regards--ted

    ReplyDelete