Termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and powder post beetles are part of nature’s “recycling team.” When a tree dies or loses a limb, the insects come to break down the debris and replenish the environment. Unfortunately, these wood destroying insects do not know the difference between a stump and a house.
Where Can Wood Destroying Insects Be Found?
Conditions such as high moisture levels, earth to wood contact, and inadequate ventilation are conducive to wood destroying insect activity. Elimination of these conditions may reduce the likelihood of infestation. Storage of firewood next to or in the house is not recommended. Wood debris in the crawl space next to the house should be removed.
Though there are many different species of termite, here in the Northeast we only have to worry about the eastern subterranean termite. These ravenous insects live in the soil and attack from the foundation up. Termites do not generally like light air, and a homeowner is not likely to know that they have an infestation without a professional inspection. Termites do more damage in the United States than fires, tornados and hurricanes combined. They can destroy up to 3 linear feet of wood per year.
Carpenter ants are a polymorphic species, meaning that although they occur in different sizes and appearances they share a common classification. The majority of carpenter ants are black, but they may have red or brown coloration. A colony will have between 6 to 25,000 individuals and a nest can relocate very quickly from one site to another when it is disturbed. Carpenter ants do not eat wood; they only excavate the wood to create nesting sites. Sawdust-like frass may be observed in areas of their activity. However, by the time the frass is noticeable a significant amount of structural damage may have already occurred. The hardest part of taking preventative measures is finding a nest before the colony is active for too long.
Carpenter bees are capable of boring drill-like holes up to a half-inch around in homes. They will generally attack fascias, eaves, porch ceilings, posts, or other unpainted or stained wood. Behaviorally, carpenter bees will frequently re-infest past areas.
Powder Post Beetles
Adult powder post beetles are rarely seen and are usually discovered in a home from the presence of small exit holes in sills, joists, or the sub-floor. A homeowner may also notice piles of fine powdery frass under those holes. The life cycle of a beetle may be up to a year, and they are considered to be the second most destructive of these insects. They may be found infesting chairs, paneling, furniture and other wood.