Carpenter ants don’t eat wood like termites do. Instead, they damage wood by chewing galleries and tunnels through it. One way to notice that you have a carpenter ant problem is from the sawdust they create as they do their tunneling work. This sawdust may appear:
- In your basement
- Sticking to walls
- On top of baseboards
- Piled up alongside walls
Some carpenter ant colonies are made up of thousands of workers. This type of insect is black or blackish-red and larger than a common household ant. The ants grow wings once fully matured. If you see flying ants in the home, then you know a mature colony lives in your home and that more colonies are about to be produced.
Common Wood-Destroying Insects: Bark Beetles
Bark beetles will infest your trees. Their activity starts on the bark’s surface and then they progress into the inner bark areas of the branches and trunks.
Inspect your trees by looking for reddish-brown or white pitch tubes. These pitch tubes look like blobs of sap. White pitch tubes are a sign your tree repelled the bark beetles. Reddish-brown pitch tubes mean that the tree is suffering from a bark beetle infestation. Needles or leaves also reveal the signs of bark beetles by turning reddish-brown. Bark beetles kill trees which can cause damage to your home by falling on it. If you have any rustic log furniture with bark, inspect it for the signs of bark beetles.
Wood borers are another example of common wood-destroying insects that go through four development stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult beetle. The adults lay eggs in the cracks of floorboards, timbers, and other wooden objects. Once larvae hatch, they start eating through wood to the surface.
You’ll notice wood borers by seeing oval or round exit holes in wood. These insects also create a fine sawdust-like powder. An extreme sign is damaged or weak floorboards. Dead beetles and crumbling wood are other signs you have a wood borer problem.
Carpenter bees look similar to bumblebees. The difference is that carpenters tunnel through wood to lay their eggs. They typically do this inside exterior trim and are more of a nuisance than a severe threat. However, they can cause structural damage if you don’t catch the issue and they re-infest previously infested areas of your home.
You’ll notice a carpenter bee problem by seeing holes on the exterior of the home that are about one-half inch in diameter. You might see sawdust piles, too.
What to Do About Common Wood-Destroying Insects
The most important thing to do when you think you have a problem with any of these common wood-destroying insects is to call in an inspector. They will put together a report which tells you where you have issues that need addressing.