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The P&PDL Picture of the Week
for 27 January 2003

Store Firewood Outside

Timothy Gibb, Extension Entomologist, Entomology Department, Purdue University

This photo was submitted by a client who, after finding it in her home, was concerned that it was a new mutation of some alien species of insect, intent on doing her harm. Rest assured that it is not. This is simply a deformed, long-horned, wood boring beetle. These, and similar species of insects are attracted to dead and dying trees (firewood fits this description) during the summer months. Eggs are laid and larvae grow and develop until temperatures become very cold outside, at which time development stops. However, if these insects are brought (via infested firewood) into a warm home during the winter months, the insects, sensing the temperature change, believe that it is springtime and continue their development. That is why they are found emerging inside homes during the winter months. If conditions were not quite perfect during the emerging (pupation) process, the adult beetles will sometimes appear deformed, as in the photograph. Rest assured that these are neither mutations nor alien invaders. Furthermore, they do not pose any significant threat to the home nor occupants but are merely an unwelcome nuisance.

Homeowners should make a practice of bringing firewood indoors ONLY as needed, at most a couple of days supply at a time. Storing firewood inside the home for longer periods of time allows these and many other species of insects ample time to complete development, emerge and frighten residents.

Click on the small image to view a larger image.

Painted Hickory Borer

Painted Hickory Borer (Megacyllene caryae)
Host: Firewood

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Last updated: 28 January 2003/amd
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University