Wood-destroying insects like termites, carpenter ants, and beetles cause more than $1 billion in property damage each year in the United States. That’s why prevention and early detection are extremely important in avoiding and minimizing significant damage. Protect your home from wood-eating pests with these helpful tips and facts.

 

Termites

Habitat: Termites are the most prevalent type of the home-invading wood eater in North America. They are found in every state except for Alaska, but are most commonly found in the Southern states. Termites also gravitate towards dark, moist areas like crawlspaces and basements.

 

Signs of an Infestation:

  • Termites feed on wood, cardboard and paper, so the first step in prevention is removing their sources of food as much as you can. If you must keep these materials in the home, especially storage spaces, be sure to keep them off the ground.
  • Another way to detect termites is to look for the wings of swarms. Swarms are what termites are called during the stage of their life cycle when they go out into the open to fly off and reproduce. Swarms are often seen near or on windows and sills.
  • Finally, termites like to create of mud tunnels along foundations, floor framing, drywall, etc. They make these tunnels to travel safely from their nests deep in the ground to the home, where they feast. Keep your eyes peeled for these tunnels, which have about the same diameter as a pencil.

Carpenter Ants

Habitat: Just like termites, carpenter ants love moisture, warmth, and eating wood! In fact, their ideal home is a nest bored deep into damp and decaying wood. Carpenter ants typically appear in the Northern states during the warmer months.

 

Signs of an Infestation:

  • One way to detect carpenter ants is listening for a soft rustling sound in your home. The noise is the result of the ants moving around in the walls. Since carpenter ants are most active at night when they are foraging for food and water, this is time you will most likely hear them.
  • In addition, look for piles of sawdust or frass, a mixture of wood shavings and fecal matter. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t eat the wood they tunnel into, which means they leave the wood debris they bury into at the openings of tunnels and nests.
  • Keep an eye out for the shed wings of carpenter ant swarmers. These are commonly found near window sills, baseboards, and vents.
     

Powderpost Beetles

Habitat: Powderpost beetles like to lay eggs in cracks, crevices, and wood pores. Their peak time is May through August and they can be found anywhere in the country.

Signs of an Infestation:

  • If you notice your wood is crumbling or decaying for no apparent reason, powderpost beetles may be to blame.
  • When the larvae develop into adults, they hatch and exit the wood. They do this by eating through it, which leaves powdery deposits of frass and pin-sized holes in the process.
     

General Tips

  • Keep your house dry and ventilated by checking gutters and downspouts to see if they drain water properly and repair leaky faucets, water pipes, AC units, etc.
  • Store firewood and wood products away from the foundation and off the ground.
  • Trim fence slats and any wood trim around the house like garage door jams up off the soil.
  • Cut tree branches so they aren’t touching the house.
  • Use mulch sparingly.
  • Don’t panic! Wood-destroying insects work slowly and there are lots of treatments available.
     

Wood-destroying insects can unfortunately be difficult to spot unless the damage is great. That’s why it’s important to watch for signs of an infestation and receive annual inspections from licensed professionals. Hopefully these facts and tips left you feeling more prepared to prevent and handle any wood-eating pests that may come your way!