Termites are not the only wood boring insect. Ants and beetles also bore through wood as a safe place to establish their colonies. While not as destructive as termites, wood boring insects still can damage and compromise a structure if left unchecked. They are found throughout the Four Seasons Pest Control service area, including Danville, VA, Moneta, VA, and Reidsville, NC.
Appearance: Among the largest of ants, 1/4- to 3/8-inch long. Color varies depending on species, from red to black or a combination. The most common species is black.
Carpenter ants get their name because they excavate wood in order to build their nests, leaving hollowed-out tunnels. These colonies require a constant source of water to survive, and are often found in wet, decayed wood such as dead limbs and tree stumps.
In homes, they can be found in wet, poorly ventilated spaces such as crawl spaces or attics. While carpenter ants don't eat wood, their excavations pose a property threat, making ant control imperative. In the spring, winged reproductive ants called swarmers fly out to start new colonies. Colonies can contain up to 50,000 workers.
Carpenter ants will feed on nearly anything people eat, particularly sweets and meats. The favorite food of adult carpenter ants is the sweet "honeydew" produced by plant-feeding insects, such as aphids, scales, and mealybugs. Carpenter ants also feed on other insects.
Successful carpenter ant control depends on eliminating the parent colony, which is usually located outdoors. Finding and treating as many nests (satellite colonies) as possible is the key to carpenter ant control.
Store firewood away from your house, trim dead limbs from trees, and remove stumps and lumber from around the house. A frequently overlooked ant control measure is to make sure that all plumbing or roof leaks are sealed.
Old House Borers
Appearance: Long, thin antennae that are often as long (or longer) than the body of the beetle; 5/8- to 1-inch in length. The beetle's body has a slightly flattened appearance, and its color may appear dark gray, but is usually brownish black to black. It is not often that a homeowner or pest control operator actually finds adult old house borers in a structure; the sound of the larvae feeding, exit holes and frass are the signs that usually point to an infestation.
The adult Old House Borer beetles emerge mainly during July and August. They mate, then the female deposits her eggs in the natural cracks and crevices of the bark of felled logs and in wood stored in lumberyards. Subsequently, infested timber may be used in newly constructed buildings. In wood, the larval stage may last from three to fifteen years.
Old House Borers feed only in pine, spruce, and other coniferous woods.
In managing Old House Borer infestations, single pieces of lumber, furniture and the structure itself are treated in a similar manner as treating for powderpost beetles. Unpainted wood should be treated with borates. Surface treatments of borates may not always penetrate deep enough to kill all existing beetle larvae, meaning that new exit holes may still appear after application; however, the borates will prevent re-infestation. In cases of severe beetle infestation, a professional may be called on to fumigate the structure.
Appearance: Reddish brown, with long, narrow, flat bodies; 1/8- to 1/4-inch.
Powderpost beetles live in hardwood floors, timbers, crates, antique furniture and other objects made from hardwoods. They lay their eggs in cracks in the wood and the larvae tunnel into the surface, filling it with a very fine powder-like dust. Powderpost beetles are considered by some experts to be second only to termites in the United States in their destructiveness to wood and wood products.
Hardwoods found in floors, timbers, furniture and other objects.
Vigilant inspection of wood sources in your home is key to preventing powderpost beetles. At the earliest signs of damage, call a pest management professional, who can determine which control measures are necessary.