Bugs in Mesquite

      Bug lore from Mesquite country. December 6, 2009

Question
I have a couple mesquite logs someone gave me. Both are approximately 14" wide. One is about 6', the other 3'. I'd like to experiment with sawing and air drying them. I'm currently at a community college and we have a 16" resaw Laguna there and I've got the go ahead to try. Both have numerous borer holes and dust trails. The logs were cut in the winter and sat off the ground with painted ends for a few months.

Can anyone recommend an easy way to deal with the bugs? And since I'll have to mill them at school, might there be any issue with the bugs causing problems with all the student project wood lying around?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor L:
The bug holes are most likely longhorn beetles and the hole won't go much deeper than the sapwood. Bring your wood in, make your cuts, clean up the mess and haul it away and you should be okay I think. The beetles only like moist wood, so unless your classmates are using green wood there won't be much chance of an invasion.

Longhorn beetles are really amazing in being able to smell fresh cut mesquite. I've thrown a log on the mill, made one slabbing pass, and seen them trundling towards me through the grass by the dozens. Wish I still had access to mesquite. Really pretty stuff. I brought a couple hundred BF or so with me when I moved out of Texas that I have been hording for a bed frame. Just got to find one of them "round to it's". Sawing it on a shop saw may be a little tough. It is a hard wood and will be tough on the blade.



From contributor T:
Contributor L pretty much covered it. I will say that your bugs may also be powder post beetles. Air dried mesquite will get dry enough here in Texas that most borers will leave it alone once it reaches EMC, but not PP beetles.

The yellow sap is tempting to leave on for contrast, but even if you kiln dry it and get it beyond 140, the sap will re-absorb enough moisture when it goes back up to EMC to call the PP beetles back to the table. They still love it at 12% MC like you'll see here in Texas. It's true that they bore mostly into the sap, but they will bore a few layers into the heart also.

I have a peculiar way of getting rid of the borers in mesquite that I learned completely by accident. As soon as I bring the wood off the mill, I toss it on a fire ant mound. I assure you, the larvae and bugs are history the next day. Within an hour or less in fact, you'll see larvae being dragged out of the holes and bugs running for their lives.

Fire ants have a purpose after all. That way you can put bug-free wood in your kiln. Sounds crazy, but it works every time. Fire ants love borers, and especially larvae, as much as the borers love mesquite.



From contributor L:
The great big harvester ants like 'em too. I had a big nest of them near my wood stacks for years when I lived in Texas. Actually the nest was there long before I started milling.


From the original questioner:
My plan was to slab it at 4/4 or 5/4 and air dry it. It sounds like I should remove the sapwood before stickering.


From the original questioner:
The resaw on the Laguna 16HD went really well. I tried out a 3'x12" log I had. Lots of dead worms now, in addition to a displaced family of pseudoscorpions. I'm sure there's a better way, but I just made a plywood sled that held it square and cut the log and self-destructed the sled each pass.

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