What Are Wood Destroying Insects?
A variety of insects can damage wood. Some of them actually eat the wood, while others destroy it when they burrow into the wood to create nests. Small holes or sawdust on the surface of the wood can indicate damage by insects, but in some cases, damage isn’t visible to the naked eye.
Termites – There are two main species of termites that affect U.S. homes: termites that live underground (subterranean termites) and those that live entirely in wood (drywood termites). Subterranean termites build colonies in the soil, whereas drywood termites can be found in the framing, furniture and hardwood flooring of homes. Both species of termites tend to be most active in areas with warmer climates, although subterranean termites can be found in every state in the U.S., except Alaska.
Carpenter Ants – There are many species of carpenter ants, varying primarily by geography. However all carpenter ants nest in wood and can cause damage to the wood of homes, buildings and structures.
Although carpenter ants are one of the largest ant species in the U.S. size is not necessarily a determining factor in the identification of carpenter ants, because the different castes and sexes are often of different sizes.
You’ll often find carpenter ants in basements or around rotting wood near window sills or leaky pipes. Piles of wood shavings can indicate that you have a carpenter ant infestation.
Powder Post Beetles – Adult beetles lay eggs in the crevices of uncoated wood. When larvae hatch, they start tunneling. Sometimes you can see the outline of tunnels near the wood's surface, following the soft areas of the grain, but in many cases you can't see any evidence at all that larvae are present.
As the larvae bore, the tunnels behind them becomes packed with sawdust. They stop near the surface of the wood, where they mature.
Adults break through the surface, leaving tiny round holes where they emerge. Sawdust spills from the hole, and can continue to spill out for some time even though an infestation is over.
Wood Borers – Long-horned borers and roundheaded borers are major shade tree insect pests. There are more than 1400 species of wood borers in the United States and these beetles, in the family Cerambycidae, are also called long-horned beetles and roundheaded borers.
Cerambycid beetles are distinguished by their oblong, often cylindrical bodies, their long, usually 11-segmented antennae, and their long legs. Roundheaded wood borers typically infest living hardwood or deciduous trees but will also attack some conifers. They are particularly harmful to shade trees in urban areas.
Wood borers are often found in firewood, log homes or structural wood.
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