Wood Bugs: How to Control Wood-Eating Insects (Beetles, Bees, Ants & Termites)

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Wood boring insects like pill bugs, sow bugs, false powderpost beetles, and dampwood termites infest various types of wood and their related products as they eat away their surfaces to create extensive damage.

It is of critical importance to identify the type and species of a wood-eating insect prior to undertaking any sort of preventative or control measures. Though the wood-eating insects are numerous, they are found in just four categories, namely, false Powderpost Beetles, Termites, and Bark Beetles and Wood Borers.

Carpenter ants tend to wreak a lot of emotions upon homeowners, as these insects are commonly mistaken for termites. Winged, with similar body shapes, carpenter ants and termites differ vastly in terms of their many unique attributes.

Found mostly in cavity-like recesses, carpenter ants are often situated in the hollows of trees, doors, and the various nooks and crannies of rooms and spaces. With a natural preference for weak, degrading, and rotted wood, carpenter ants also have a particular penchant for insulation building materials.

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Termites are a globally recognized threat to homes and buildings. With their ability to wreak mass destruction on walls, floors, and other important parts of the infrastructure, termites have the unique ability among insects as being able to eat their way to their intended destination.

Termites are signaled by their winged flying leader of locales that provide copious feed opportunities and make their way to these locations in termite swarms; a sight that is frightening to behold and perhaps even more frightening to contend with through extermination efforts.

Coming in two main species, termites are distinguished by their drywood or subterranean designations. Drywood termites can wreak mass amounts of destruction on homes, while subterranean termites feed beneath the ground’s surface and spend much of their time looking for wet, moist environments where they can breed and find palatable feeding sources.

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Powderpost beetles, also known as house borers, are designated as the most ubiquitous wood-eating pest in the United States, along with being the most serious of insects that have wood boring down to an art form and can make holes in almost any kind of wood. Powder post beetles are distinct in their ability to turn the wood material they are feasting on into an unrecognizable sawdust-like powder.

The woods these bugs are attracted to is wide-ranging in scope and includes the following: Walnut, cherry, ash, wood chip, and hickory woods in addition to a variety of softwoods.

Powder post beetles have the capability to wreak havoc and mass destruction on wooden elements such as planks, flooring, beds, mattress encasements, tools, statues, art, and other equipment and objects fabricated from wooden materials. A critically important issue that requires extermination efforts, powder post beetles will eat their way through any and all wood in their vicinity if left unattended to.

Bark Beetles, in addition to wood borer beetles, feast upon the bark on trees and have a particular penchant for boring through wood furniture, log cabins, and other human property constructed of wood materials.

Lying dormant in the winter season, bark beetles emerge to become active as winter approaches. Despite their ability to cause harm to wood and trees, bark beetles are relatively harmless insects that do not require the need for insecticide products.

Despite the specific wood-eating insect you are dealing with, there are various products available on the market geared towards the comprehensive extermination of all species that encompass wood-eating capabilities. A popular option amongst consumers is a chemical called Chlorpyrifos, known as Dursban, made specifically for the control and reduction of wood-eating insects. Dursban effectively kills emerging and attacking adult wood-eating insects.

Care must be taken while using Dursban, particularly when spraying it in an airborne fashion or when spraying on overhead surfaces. When using this chemical, ensure that all surfaces are covered with plastic before applying Durban with a pressured sprayer or paint brush. It is imperative to not let children or pets come into contact with Dursban treated surfaces until the liquid has fully dried.

Another popular treatment for wood-eating insects is octaborate tetrahydrate, known on the market as Tim-Bor, Bora-Care. This high-performance treatment for wood deeply penetrates wood to make it permanently toxic to the consumption of wood-eating insects.

This product can be either painted or sprayed on and can be applied in a DIY manner or with a professional hand. It is important to note that the finishes that this formula works on must be sanded, naked, or unfinished for it to truly work to its potential.

Insecticides remain a popular option for consumers who are looking for an extermination product that combines affordability and efficacy and delivers outstanding results. When using insecticides, it’s important to use a product that is labeled specifically for use on wood-eating insects or one of their sub-types.

Some cursory steps that should be undertaken when using insecticides for wood-eating insects include the following:​

  • Keep insecticides away from children and animals as the formulas contain a litany of toxins and hazardous materials
  • Store insecticides in places that are difficult to access
  • Store insecticides with the label facing out so that they are not mistaken for other common household products
  • When applying insecticides, thoroughly ensure that dishes, utensils, and other items are thoroughly covered, wrapped, or stored away
  • Avoid entry into rooms undergoing insecticide treatment
  • Avoid overexposure to insecticides when performing the treatment yourself
  • Ensure that you do not eat, drink, or smoke while applying insecticides
  • After using insecticides, thoroughly wash your hands, fingers, and face, as well as any other skin that may have come into contact
  • Dispose of empty insecticide containers in the trash away from children and pets who may inadvertently access them

Outside of wood treatments, insecticides, and any DIY efforts, a highly effective means of exterminating wood-eating insects is fumigation. Fumigation is an extensive and complicated process that must be performed by a licensed professional.

Highly poisonous, buildings must be wrapped thoroughly in plastic to contain chemicals and trapped bugs, and ultimately vacated for three days. It’s a costly venture that many view as an absolute last resort in the extermination of wood-eating insects, but a step that may be absolutely necessary if your home or building is overrun with an immense infestation.

​Whichever method you choose in your wood-eating insect control, elimination, and reduction plan is a decision that will provide you with instantaneous benefits. Upon taking the first step in the extermination process, you will have gained much headway in the fight against the infestation in your home.

If your extermination process is largely based on DIY measures and products, consistency and patience is key and will lead you to the successful results you desire. A professional extermination company is a great option if you can afford the expense and you wish for results that are dramatically quick and guaranteed.

Despite the choice, you undertake in your extermination efforts, learning from the situation is imperative so that you can take part in preventative actions and measures to safeguard your home and your life from future infestations.

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Wood-Boring Beetles

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