Moving Past the Termite: More Wood-Destroying Insects
Termites are considered the main threat when it comes to wood-destroying insects. But the fact of the matter is they are not the only insect species that can cause damage to your home. In this article, let’s take a look at some other wood-destroying insects that all homeowners should know about.
Named for their ability to carve through wood, carpenter ants are unlike termites in that they don’t actually feed on the wood they eat. These wood-destroying insects just make their burrows inside after finding wood that fits the specifications of their nests. In most cases, this wood needs to be moist and in some stage of decay. For this reason, carpenter ants most commonly affect stumps, fallen trees, and the lower portions of wood buildings.
Their distinct appearance, 6 to 13 millimeters long and red or black, make carpenter ants easy to identify, but there are ways to figure out if they’re around without even seeing one. These ants dig very distinct smooth tunnels and leave wood powder, sometimes occurring in clumps.
Like their cousins in the ant family, carpenter bees are known to strike at homes. They differ, however, in that they infest mainly bare areas such as the trim on roofing or the unfinished walls on outbuildings. The main way to identify a carpenter bee attack is through round hollows roughly 9mm in diameter. After entering the wood, these bees then turn at a 90-degree angle and dig interweaving tunnels, sometimes for several feet in a row, before making their hives.
One problem in dealing with carpenter bees is that they’re a common food for woodpeckers. If woodpeckers land on the outside of the building and try to remove bees from inside, this causes further structural damage to your home. That said, a visiting woodpecker is one signs that carpenter bees may be on your property.
Old House Borer
Old House Borers are among the most common wood-destroying insects that inspectors and homeowners encounter in the United States. They often cause stress fractures inside homes they infest and can cause the wood above their tunnels to bulge outward. Luckily, these beetles are easy to identify.
Old House Borers are large, ranging from 15 to 25 millimeters in length, and make an audible sound as they chew through wood. This sound can be mistaken for the sound of a mouse at first, but will then stop for years as the larvae nest. When they emerge, they often double or triple the amount of structural damage originally inflicted, making it important to stop an infestation as quickly as possible.
These small, reddish-brown or black beetles are dangerous in large part because of their slow reproductive cycle and tendency to stay put rather than travel. Adults of the species are very rarely noticed at all and tunnels may indicate their presence before they begin spreading into occupied areas. Anobiids can live in a home for over ten years before they become noticeable. They often enter the home through crawl spaces underground or near surface level. For this reason, slab-on-grade foundations are rarely affected, but these homes should still be examined for frass that might indicate the presence of Anobiids.