Ace Building Inspectors
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Wood Destroying Pest

termite.jpgTermites, carpenter ants, powder post beetles, old house borers and carpenter bees are the common wood destroying insects.

Subterranean termites nest in the soil to obtain moisture, but they also nest in wood that is often wet. They easily attack any wood in contact with the ground. If the wood does not contact the soil, they can build mud tunnels or tubes to reach wood several feet above the ground. These tunnels can extend to reach wood and often enter a structure through expansion joints in concrete slabs or where utilities enter the house.

Drywood termites infest dry, undecayed wood, including structural lumber as well as dead limbs of native trees and shade and orchard trees, utility poles, posts, and lumber in storage. The Drywood termites variety have a low moisture requirement and can tolerate dry conditions for prolonged periods. They remain entirely above ground and do not connect their nests to the soil.

Dampwood termites nest in wood buried in the ground. In nature, they are commonly found in tree stumps and fallen tree branches.

Carpenter ants hollow out dead, moist wood in trees, firewood, and fence posts to build nests but they don’t eat wood. Inside, they build colonies in wall voids, foam insulation, eaves, crawl spaces behind siding, in attic insulation and many other places, usually in areas where leakage has caused moisture to accumulate. They forage at night during summer, however they often invade structures in spring and fall looking for food sources. Many times homeowners will find these ants swarming inside, especially around lights and windows. 

Wood-boring beetles are the most damaging wood-destroying insects in homes after termites. The amount of damage that wood-boring beetles can cause depends on the type of wood (hardwood or softwood), the moisture of the wood, and the environmental conditions at the infestation site. Lyctid beetles infest only hardwoods, such as oak, but only the larvae damage wood. Anobiids can infest both hardwoods and softwoods, but only the larvae feed on wood.  Bostrichid beetles bore into freshly cut hardwoods, but a few will attack softwoods, and both adults and larvae of the bostrichid beetle damage wood.

Old house borers infest softwoods, especially pine and are wood borers in the larval stage. Old house borers will attack timbers in a building, so they are the only long horned beetles requiring control measures.

Carpenter Bees are considered pests of wood because they excavate tunnels in softwood as sites for producing their larvae. They prefer untreated wood or well-weathered wood. These bees Common nesting sites are posts, fence railings, porch support posts, wall siding, eaves, wooden shingles, windowsills, doors, wooden porch furniture, etc.

Much of the structural damage attributed to subterranean termites may actually be the result of wood decay fungi. Favorable conditions for both pests are very similar. They both readily attack damp wood. Wood decay fungi occur only in wood with a moisture content greater than 20 percent. Most decay or rot fungi grow only on wood that is subject to wetting by contact with moist soil, rain, plumbing leaks, or condensation. Decay fungi take their food from the wood as they grow and reduce the strength of wood, often making it brown and crumbly or white and stringy.

Subterranean termites can be exterminated by soil treatment with termiticides that includes cypermethrin, fipronil, fenvalerate, imidacloprid and permethrin. Any of these can be used to establish a chemical barrier that kills or repels termites.

Pests that can be treated with fumigation include drywood termites, Anobiid powderpost beetles (usually in softwoods such as floor joists, etc.), Lyctid powderpost beetles (sapwood of hardwoods such as moldings, cabinets, and flooring), and old house borers (sapwood of softwoods in beams, rafters, etc.).

Termite Inspection Report

Section 1 contains items where visible evidence of active infestation of wood destroying insects or infection (wood decay fungi) were found. Damage is defined as a wood member which has been structurally weakened to a point that it no longer performs its intended function. If the damage exists at a visible portion of the interior or exterior it must be repaired or replaced as it is cosmetically compromised. Only damaged portions of wood members must be repaired or replaced if the wood member does not bear structural loads. Structural members must be repaired in a manner as to retain the structural integrity. The correction must be related to an active infestation or infection to be categorized as a section one item.

Section 2 contains items where a condition exists that is "deemed likely" to lead to infestation or infection. This includes, but not limited to, plumbing leaks, excessive moisture conditions, wood to ground contact, roof leaks and shower leaks. Damage caused by leakage or some other moisture condition is a section two item unless infestation or infection is present.