Wood Destroying Insects
Common Wood-Destroying Organisms Of The Southeast
Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa ssp)
These bees bore into wood to make a home for their young. Carpenter bees are solitary insects, although, the individual females may nest in close proximity to each other. After the tunnel is made, the female collects food to feed the young that will hatch from the eggs after she leaves. The young will be full grown and become adults in the fall. Because of attractive scents and good nesting conditions, the same sites and tunnels are reused each year.
Carpenter Ant (Camponotus ssp)
Carpenter Ants are the largest of the common ants. The adults vary in length from about a quarter of an inch for workers and up to three quarters of an inch for a queen. They are either entirely black or black and red. To establish their nest, carpenter ants seek soft, (and generally) moist wood, particularly wood that has weathered and begun to decay. These ants do not eat wood but excavate galleries to rear their young. Carpenter ants eject the wood in the form of a coarse sawdust or wood shavings. They are predators and typically feed on other insects.
Powder Post Beetles (families Anobiidae, Bostrichidae, and Lyctidae)
The larval stages of these three families are all wood borers, usually attacking seasoned wood (soft and hardwood). Many species continue to work for years in the same piece of wood, gradually consuming all the sapwood until nothing remains except a powder-filled shell. Adult female powder post beetles mate and begin laying eggs soon after they emerge from infested wood. After hatching, young larvae usually tunnel with the grain, but later take an irregular course. Feeding by larvae can continue for several years until the life cycle is complete.
Old House Borer (Hylotrupes Bajulus)
This insect is part of the more commonly known group called “long horned beetles.” The larval stage of this beetle feeds on seasons softwood preferring pine, fir, and spruce. The larvae will not live in fresh cut or decayed wood. The larvae can remain alive and feed for several years in seasoned softwood and cause considerable damage during this time. Contrary to its common name, the old house borer occurs primarily in houses less than 10 years old. The feeding of larger old house borer larvae can actually be heard. They make a sound similar to scratching or scraping of the wood. These feeding sounds are most noticeable in the spring or summer and less so in the winter.
Cubical Brown Rot (Gleophllum spp, etc)
Brown cubical rot is caused by fungi which decay wood and reduce its strength. The fungi often produce a whitish, cottony growth on the surface of wood. They grow only on moist wood. The fungi can be present in the wood when it is brought into the house, or can grow from spores which are always present in the air and soil. Wood decayed by brown-rot fungi is brittle and darkened in color. As the decay proceeds, the wood shrinks, twists, and cracks perpendicular to the grain. Fungi have four basic requirements to grow and reproduce: moisture, oxygen, adequate temperature, and food. If you deny the organisms from one of these four, then the wood does not decay. For example, wood pilings and posts completely submerged in water do not decay because oxygen is denied to the organisms. Sawmills once stored their saw logs in ponds for this reason. Even today, most modern sawmills store logs through the warmer part of the year under a constant water spray. This retards the growth of fungi by reducing the oxygen content and temperature.