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Houston Pest Control Guide

Wood-Destroying Pests

Wood Destroying Houston PestsTermites are not the only pests in Houston that destroy wood. There are several other species of wood-eating and wood-burrowing insects that live in the city and that can do damage to your property.

If you see what looks like insect-related damage to the wood in or around your house, the nature of the holes and marks they leave in the wood can be the key to identifying and eliminating them.

Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants are named for their habit of destroying wood. These large, black ants will hollow out trees and wooden structures and carry off pieces of wood to build their nests. They don't eat wood like termites, but they can be nearly as destructive as termites, particularly to older wooden and wood-framed homes. These ants are highly destructive and can be a significant problem pest if left untreated.

How Do I Know If I Have Carpenter Ants?

Damaged wood is the chief sign you have carpenter ants. Carpenter ants leave behind sawdust-like particles similar to those left by termites, but their damage can be easily distinguished from termite damage by the nature of the holes they leave behind. When termites attack wood, the damage they leave behind looks rough and gnawed, while carpenter ants will leave smooth round holes that look like as if they were made by a drill or bore.

How Do I Get Rid of Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants are particularly attracted to homes with water leaks or damaged or rotting wood. They will usually gain access to home by crawling along pipes. In an infested home, a main colony will usually be found near the home outdoors and smaller sub-colonies within the home near the damaged wood. Repairing and replacing rotting wood and securely sealing the gaps around pipes will help keep carpenter ants out of your home. Infestations can usually be destroyed by locating and destroying the outdoor main colony and eliminating any sub-colonies inside the home.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are medium-sized bees with adults approaching 1 inch in length. They can be distinguished by the striped black and yellowish orange hairs covering their upper bodies and smooth, shiny abdomens. Carpenter bees will chew smooth, round holes into wooden structures to nest and lay eggs. These nests are distinctive round holes approximately 1/2 inch in diameter than can extend an inch or so deep into the wood. Carpenter bees prefer to build their homes in untreated softwoods, and so they usually damage decks or sheds or outdoor structures.

How Do I Get Rid of Carpenter Bees?

Carpenter bees can be very resilient, so professional treatment and ongoing monitoring is usually required to get rid of them. Carpenter bees will return to the same spot to nest over multiple seasons and chew a new hole every year. These bees will also often return to the area where they first hatched to nest, so leaving the nests untreated can eventually increase the amount of damage the bees will do.

After carpenter bees have been eliminated, its important to seal the holes they've made to prevent them from becoming nesting grounds for wasps or other pests.

Deathwatch Beetle

Deathwatch beetles are grayish-black beetles with splotchy covering on the top of their wings than can grow up to 1/4 inch in length. The deathwatch beetle gets its name from the clicking sound the males make to attract mates that was once believed to be the sound of the beetle counting down an impending death. Fortunately, most scientists now think that chances of dying because you heard the mating call of a beetle are fairly slim. However, the larvae of these beetle will gnaw their way deep into wood and can be very destructive to furniture and building structures.

How Do I Get Rid of Deathwatch Beetles?

These beetles can be difficult to eliminate, because to treat them effectively requires getting pesticides deep into the wood. Deathwatch beetle damage will appear as number of small holes clustered close together on a piece of wood. While the holes they create are small, their bores can go deep into the wood and over time they can cause significant damage to and weakening of the infested wood.

Old House Borer

The old house borer is a wood-destroying beetle that leaves damage very similar in appearance to termite damage. Adult beetles are grayish brown with long, curved antennae and dark spots on the side of their heads that resemble eyes. They are somewhat misnamed, since they most often damage homes that are under 10 years old, particularly those made of softwoods or pines.

How Did Old House Borers Get Into My Home?

Old House Borers have a remarkably long life cycle, and larvae can remain dormant in wood for thirty years or more. These larvae are usually already present in the wood when the home is constructed, and once they become active they will gnaw through the wood as they mature. Adult beetles emerge from the wood by chewing an oval-shaped hole about 3/4 of an inch wide at its largest point, usually surrounded by a soft, sawdust-like residue. The presence of old wood borers can sometimes be detected before they emerge by the appearance of blistering on the surface of the infected wood.

How Do I Get Rid of Old House Borers?

While old house borers are generally not as destructive as termites, the damage they cause can be significant and they should be treated as soon as they are detected. Like termites, treatment requires specialized equipment and should be done by a professional.

Powderpost Beetles and False Powderpost Beetles

Powderpost beetles and false powder post beetles are two distantly related species that cause very similar damage. The larvae of both these types of beetles will feed on wood, eventually reducing any infected wood to a fine powder. If left untreated, they can be a highly destructive pest. Because the beetles only eat wood in their larval stage, they are most often identified by the damage they leave behind, multiple pin-sized holes in the wood and a residue of very fine powdery sawdust-like material on the infected wood.

What Kind of Damage Can These Beetles Do?

Powderpost beetles will do significant damage to trees, and will often infest garages and sheds, destroying wooden handles on tools. They can also destroy books and furniture, and will even sometimes eat rafters and hardwood floors. Seasoned hardwoods are particularly prone to infestation.

How Do I Get Rid of These Beetles?

Powderpost Beetles and False Powderpost Beetlesare are two different species that leave nearly identical damage but respond to very different treatments. Determining the type you have in your home is essential for effective elimination. These beetles will usually require professional treatment, because an expert's eye is usually needed to know which treatments to use.

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