Is there something eating you? Or worse yet – eating your home? If there’s anything more unsettling than having an infestation of wood-destroying insects in your home, it’s that uncertain suspicion that the pests might be there. Termites, carpenter ants and carpenter bees can quickly ruin wooden siding and the framework of a house, turning timber into sawdust.
The following tells you what to look for if you suspect you have a wood-boring insect problem, how to get rid of carpenter bees, carpenter ants and termites, and how to prevent them from returning.
How to Identify Wood-Boring Insects
If you’re lucky, you’ll see the wood-destroying insects and be able to take care of them before they have a chance to do any damage to the wood in your home. Unfortunately, the case more often than not is that you’ll find the damage done first and only see the insects after the fact.
These photos show the most common evidence of infestations.
Termites | Termite Damage
Termites are the best known of wood-boring insects, and they vary greatly in appearance. They can be black, white or yellowish-brown and may or may not have wings. They range from 1/4 inch long to just under 1/2 inch.
Unfortunately, most termites work from the inside out, so by the time you see damaged wood on the surface, a lot more damage has been done on the inside. Other than looking for wood made brittle by the familiar channels the termites create, you should also watch for mud tubes that some termites build to move through. These tubes are made of mud, wood, saliva and other components.
Carpenter Ant | Carpenter Ant Damage
Carpenter ants are often mistaken for termites. They do look a lot like each other and, like termites, carpenter ants may or may not have wings. Carpenter ants can be as small as 1/5 inch, but they also range in size up to 1 inch long. Perhaps one of the easier ways to tell the difference between termites and carpenter ants is by the number of body segments. Carpenter ants have 3 distinct body segments, while termites only have 2.
Carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood. They tunnel through wood in an effort to build nests. The sawdust-like byproduct of these tunnels and the entry holes into the wood (pictured above) are the most obvious signs of a carpenter ant problem.
Carpenter Bee | Carpenter Bee Damage
Carpenter bees are hard to miss. They’re large
, black and yellow bees. They look a lot like bumblebees, except that a bumblebee’s abdomen is yellow and fuzzy while the carpenter bee’s abdomen is black and shiny.
Much like the carpenter ant, carpenter bees burrow into wood not for food, but to build a nest. And like the carpenter ant, the easiest-to-spot signs of a carpenter bee problem are the entry holes and the piles of sawdust below the holes.
How to Get Rid of Wood-Boring Insects
Whether you’ve determined you do have termites or simply suspect you might, it’s best to get a professional inspection. Not only will they know what kills termites, they will be able to find where the termites are coming from and offer a solution, whether it is mechanical alteration of the area to block termites, soil treatment and/or foundation treatment. As a do-it-yourself supplement to professional treatment, you can use detection and killing stakes and an insecticide spray to detect and kill termites.
Carpenter Ants and Carpenter Bees
If you believe you have an infestation, there are a number of carpenter ant and carpenter bee solutions to fit your needs. With both carpenter ants and carpenter bees, you’ll need to treat the nest area repeatedly with carpenter ant or carpenter bee killer until you are sure no live insects remain inside the wood.
Do not seal off the holes until you know all carpenter ants or carpenter bees, including any larvae, have died. If you seal off the hole while a live carpenter ant or carpenter bee is still inside, it will bore a new hole to escape, thereby creating more damage. Wait a couple of months until you are certain no carpenter ants or carpenter bees are present, and then seal off the nesting holes with putty.
How to Protect Your Home from Wood-Boring Insects
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keeping termites, carpenter ants and carpenter bees from ever taking root in your home is best. Not only will it will save your home from damage, but it will also save the time and money you would need to spend on repairs and later eradication of the insects.
Watch for Symptoms
● Keep an eye out for the insects pictured above. They could be on your house, in your yard or even coming over from a neighbor’s house. If you see one of these wood-boring pests, kill it before it makes itself at home in your home. If you see an insect and you’re not sure what it is, snap a picture of it and send it to us using our Bug & Weed Identifier App. We’ll identify the insect for you.
● Also watch for the telltale signs – the mud tubes, the boreholes, the wood shavings.
Don’t Invite Pests
● If wood looks like it has boreholes or channels in it, don’t bring it into your home, your garage or even your car.
● If you have a woodpile, keep it as far away from the house as possible.
Pretreat to Prevent
● Use something like the Spectracide Terminate® Termite Detection & Killing Stakes to detect and kill subterranean termites around the perimeter of your home.
● Create a barrier against carpenter ants using a granule insect killer.
There are a lot of variables when it comes to protecting your home against wood-destroying insects, but knowledge and awareness is the foundation of any good defense. Knowing this information, you’re off to a good start.
Do you need tips for fighting any other specific pests? Or is there more you’d like to know about the ones we covered here? Leave us a comment below.
Spectracide Terminate® Termite Detection & Killing Stakes are not recommended as sole protection against termites, and for active infestations, get a professional inspection.