Old House Borer Beetle
This beetle is one of the very few that can reinfest dry, seasoned wood that is used to build structures. The immature stages may take from 3 to 12 years to complete development inside the wood and owing to the fact that this is the stage that damages the wood, a lot of damage can occur over this period of time.
Some beetles are known to cause damage to structures in some areas of the United States. They can damage both hardwoods and softwoods such as floor joists in crawlspaces, hardwood floors, picture frames, wooden tool handles, etc. The damage is done by the immature stage of the beetles and not the adults themselves, even though the adults are the ones that make the "exit" holes which is the first visible signs of an infestation. There are three groups of beetles that make up the category of Powderpost beetles, the Lyctids, the Bosctrichids and the Anobiids.
Size: 1/8 - 3/8 in. (workers and soldiers); 1 in. (swarmers)
Color: Workers are a pale white hue; soldiers have a similarly-colored body but with a brown head; swarmers often are dark brown or black with white/clear wings.
Body Structure: Workers and soldiers feature an elongated oval body with six legs and antennae. The soldier is characterized by a larger, brown head with prominent mandibles. Swarmers, also known as "primary reproductives," feature similar bodies as workers only with wings. Unlike ants, they do not have segmented bodies.
Characteristics: Subterranean termites are organized by a caste system with workers, soldiers, primary reproductives/swarmers, secondary reproductives, and finally kings and queens. Termites begin the life cycle by swarming. After winged males and females mate, they shed their wings and begin a new colony, becoming the "king" and "queen." As king and queen, they are the sole reproducers. After the queen's eggs hatch, the offspring assume the various roles of the caste. Primary reproductives eventually leave the colony to swarm, mate and form new colonies. Wingless secondary reproductives, however, never leave the colony and are present to support the queen. Workers are sexually underdeveloped and do not mate; instead, they are in charge of building tunnels as well as feeding other castes. Soldiers handle defense of the colony, using their large mouthparts to fight off predators. Queens may live up to 50 years under ideal conditions and produce tens of thousands of eggs in her lifetime. Workers and soldiers, on the other hand, live about 1-2 years.
Habitat/Behavior: Dependent upon moisture for survival, subterranean termites are social insects residing in underground colonies containing as many as 1 million members. The colonies feature an intricate series of tunnels leading to food sources. Termites reach above-ground food sources by constructing mud tubes. The mud tubes shelter subterranean termites from the elements, allowing them to transport food in a moist environment. A tell-tale sign of termite infestation is mud tubes running along a foundation or along beams in a basement area of a home. Likewise, termites swarming around your home also is an obvious sign that termites are lurking nearby. Termites feed primarily on detritus; however, they consume all types of cellulose, including wood and structural timbers.
Commonly Active: Swarming in Spring but active into the late Fall.
Prevention/Treatment: If mud tubes are noted around a foundation or swarmers are spotted near your home, contact a pest control professional immediately. A trained professional will be equipped to locate the colony and tunnels and then administer proper treatment.
Wood-boring beetles include such beetles as the powderpost beetles, flat-headed wood borers and round-headed wood borers. Although not as common or as damaging to structures as termites, these beetles have the ability to seriously damage wood in some instances. Some of these beetles can reinfest the wood used to build structures and furniture and in this case, damage done can become substantial. Some cannot reinfest but can damage the wood that they are already infesting to a point where the wood loses its structural soundness. Controlling the moisture of the wood or in the area where the beetles are found, may help control the infestation. However, other methods of control are usually needed to ensure the elimination of the beetle larvae, which is the life stage that is doing most of the damage. Direct liquid wood treatments and whole structure fumigations are probably the most common methods of controlling wood-boring beetles. Replacement of the infested wood is also recommended if it can be easily done.
Wood Decaying Fungi
There are some types of fungus that can become destructive to wood used in the building of structures. Brown rot, white pocket rot, water-conducting fungus (Poria incrassata) are all examples of fungi that can attack and destroy wood. In order for these fungi to develop, there must be an elevated moisture condition in an area that will not or cannot be dried out naturally. Crawlspaces in homes are one of the most common areas where these fungi may develop, especially where water is allowed to collect or where water drain pipes or water supply lines leak. If water is allowed to get onto wood members such as floor joists or floor sheathing, fungus can develop very quickly and over large areas. Controlling water leaks or infiltration of water such as rain into a structure, especially around windows, doors, gutters, and roof vent pipes is the best way to prevent wood-decaying fungi from developing. If already present, correcting the cause of the water problem must be accomplished along with an appropriate treatment for the control of the fungi. Direct application of a liquid fungicide such as borates to the fungi and wood members, will help stop and prevent any further or future damage in the treated area.