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Recognizing Wood-boring Insect Damage in Your Home

If you have a problem with insects eating wood in or near your home, you need to find out what kind before they do any more damage to your house. Three kinds of wood boring insects are the greatest concern, because all of them will weaken and damage wood. The insects are termites, carpenter ants and carpenter bees. Here is how you can tell them apart, recognize them and set up carpenter bee traps.

Carpenter Bees

carpenter bee typesThese insects will be the easiest to determine once you see them, but where they live might be a little difficult to find. Carpenter bees come in two different sizes – large and small, but the larger ones are the most common. The larger ones can be up to an inch long, and the smaller ones about a third that size.

They are usually solitary insects and do not create hives like other bees. Instead, they usually live alone. They can be easily recognized by their shiny abdomen, which will not have any hair on it. They come in a variety of colors, such as black, purplish blue, metallic blue, and greenish black.

When making a home, a carpenter bee will make a round hole in a wood surface. The hole will be nearly perfectly round, as if made by a drill. Sawdust will usually be visible below the hole. Once the hole is made, the bee will go straight into the wood for about 1 to 2 inches and then will turn right. From there several tunnels will be made in which she will lay her eggs. The tunnels will weaken the wood. She will build tunnels in windowsills, decks, roof eaves, as well as in the rails and posts of fences that are split rail.

Carpenter bees can sometimes be heard near their holes. This can lead to further damage because it will attract woodpeckers that will make more holes to get to them.

Carpenter Ants

carpenter bees and antsAnother wood boring insect that you do not want around your house are carpenter ants. These little creatures are black or brown, and are between 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. They also have a very thin waist and bent antennae. If they have wings, the wings are not the same size.

Carpenter ants look for moist wood to build their nests. Since they do not actually eat the wood, you will find piles of sawdust beneath their entrance holes. They also establish their nests near food sources, so you may have some in your kitchen. They may travel a as far as a couple of hundred feet from their nest looking for food.

These ants typically are active at night. If you just spot a few ants, it is likely that the nest is outside. If you see at least 20 ants, then you can almost be certain that the nest is in your house.

In order to find their nest, you will need to look for the sawdust below their nests. You may also be able to follow the ants to it. Carpenter ants will make holes and galleries in both moist wood, as well as in good wood. The damage can become extensive as the nest grows larger.

Termites

Termites will typically stay out of view. They work constantly and can cause extensive damage rather quickly. It will be rare that you will be able to see their work in the wood, but you may see bubbling paint or wavy wallpaper, indicating a problem underneath.

These wood boring insects often will build mud tubes to go from one place to another, which means you may see them on cinder block leading up to your wood frame. You may see them on your exterior walls or in crawl spaces. Termites prefer moist wood, but they will also make tunnels in good wood, too.

You can identify a termite because they look like white ants. The difference is that a termite has a straight body and straight antennae. Their wings are the same size, and they are cloudy.

In order to minimize damage to your home, it is important to stop these insects as quickly as you can. While carpenter bees may not do as much damage as fast as other insects, you can obtain specially designed carpenter bee traps from BeesNThings. The traps are small and made of wood, and have a side viewing box so you can see it’s working.