Friday, May 20, 2016

The Surprise On the Hearth

One of the reasons I fell for this house when we were looking was the fireplace. I love the cozy feel of a fire on a cold, damp evening. Especially when it's a real fire, with real logs. I feel we lucked out with this place. The house also came with a big lot, and a number of mature trees. Over the years some of those trees have come down in storms, and so we've had a pretty steady supply of firewood. We keep a wood pile next to the shed and bring in a supply as needed.

pile of firewood on the hearth

About a month ago I brought in an armload of mulberry wood and stacked it on the hearth. But we never actually built the fire, so the wood just sat there. After a couple of weeks I started to hear weird little clicking noises, and I assumed it was from the wind coming down the open fireplace flue. The sounds became more frequent, and Hubs commented. I closed the flue.

The sounds didn't stop though. They became louder. And we came to realise they were coming from the wood.

Something was trying to get out.

Let me allow that to sink in. Something was in those logs and had started chewing its way out. I should have been concerned I am sure. Hubs wanted me to put the wood back outside or burn it or something, but I'm a bit of a freak. I had to know what was in there! So I left it on the hearth and waited and watched as the sounds grew louder over the days.

Then one day there were holes in the wood. That's right, more than one hole, in more than one piece of wood. And there was sawdust.

What came out? Beetles.

For the record, the beetles were super lazy and were just laying around on the logs, collecting energy I guess. Once I got a few pictures I was able to gingerly pick up the wood, place it in a plastic bin and bring it all outside. Beetles did not overrun my home. Thank goodness!

I did a bit of research online and managed to identify these critters as Longhorn Beetles of some type. I'm thinking Spondylidinae. The larvae bore their way into wood and bore back out again when they mature. I also confirmed these are not Asian Longhorn Beetles (no spots), so that's good news for the trees around here.

I've always been careful around the wood pile, mostly because of a fear of various big and possibly venomous spiders that like to make their homes in such areas. Like black widows. But I never thought about what I might be bringing in to my living room when I carried in logs. I expect I'll be a little more careful from now on, and only bring in wood when I intend to burn it right away!

Good call, you think?

Oh! And if you have a more precise name for this guy, please let me know in the comments.

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