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Guide to Wood Destroying Pests

Carpenter Bees

Xylocopa Species

Description: Carpenter bees look like typical bumblebees but often lack yellow stripes. They are solitary bees.

Color: Dark Blue, Green or Purple on Abdomen
Legs: 6
Shape: Oval

Size: 1"
Antennae: True

Habits: Unlike bumble bees, carpenter bees are solitary insects. Female carpenter bees will chew a tunnel into a piece of wood to build a nest gallery. The bits of wood she chews and deposits outside the nest are called frass. The male carpenter bee guards the outside of the nest. He does not have a stinger, but his constant buzzing causes concern for some.

Habitat: Carpenter bees bore through soft woods to lay eggs and protect their larvae as they develop.

Threats: Carpenter bees do not pose a public health threat, but they can damage wood through their nest building.

Prevention: Carpenter bees prefer bare wood, so painting and staining wood can sometimes deter them. However, they will sometimes attack stained or painted wood, so contact a pest control professional for assistance.

Dampwood Termites

Family Hodotermitidae

Description: As the name suggests, dampwood termites infest wood with a high moisture content. Dampwood termites are normally larger in size than other termite species. Bodies of king and queen dampwood termites range in size from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch long and have two pairs of wings that are equal in size and shape and extend beyond their abdomen. Nymphs range up to 5/8 inch and worker dampwood termites are up to 3/4 inch.

Color: Brown

Legs: 6

Shape: Long, Narrow, Oval

Size: 1/2" - 5/8"

Antennae: True

Habits: Dampwood termite colonies, like drywood termites, have no worker caste. The nymph dampwood termites take care of the kings and queens of the colony and feed the soldier caste.

Habitat: Because of their need for excessive moisture, dampwood termites are not often found in structures.

Threats: Dampwood termites do not usually infest structures because of the low moisture content of wood in structures. However, care must be taken to avoid attracting dampwood termites to a structure.

Prevention: To avoid dampwood termites, make sure downspouts and gutters are diverted well away from the structure, and avoid prolonged contact between a structure and large areas of moisture, such as ponds or snow drifts.

Drywood Termites

Family Kalotermitidae

Description: These social insects infest dry wood and do not require contact with the soil.

Color: Lite Brown

Legs: 6

Shape: Long, Narrow, Oval

Size: 3/8" - 1"

Antennae: True

Habits: They form colonies of up to 2,500 members. Unlike subterranean termite species, drywood termite colonies do not have a worker caste. The work is done by immature termites before they reach adulthood.

Habitat: Drywood termites infest dry wood, like that found in attic framing.

Threats: Drywood termites can infest structures and cause significant damage.

Prevention: Drywood termites can be avoided by making sure firewood and scrap wood is stored at least 20 feet from the home. Because drywood termites form new colonies by gaining access to wood through small holes, seal all cracks and crevices in a structure.

Formosan Termites

C. Formosanus

Description: Originally from China, Formosan termites are the most voracious, aggressive and devious of over 2,000 termite species known to science. Formosan termites are a subterranean species of termite. Swarmer formosan termite are about 1/2 inch in overall length, including their wings.

Color: Yellow Brown

Legs: 6

Shape: Long, Narrow, Oval

Size: 1/2"

Antennae: True

Habits: Formosans are organized into huge underground colonies, and build intricate mud nests inside the walls of a structure.

Habitat: Formosan termites are the most aggressive subterranean termite species. Formosans are organized into huge underground colonies, and build intricate mud nests inside the walls of a structure.

Threats: Because of their aggressive nature, formosan termites are difficult to control once they infest a structure. Prevention is key.

Prevention: Avoid water accumulation near your home's foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation. Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard. Most importantly, eliminate wood contact with the soil. Maintain a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building.

Powderpost Beetles

Lyctus Brunneus

Description: Powderpost beetles lay their eggs in cracks of wood and the larvae tunnel into the surface, filling it with a very fine powder-like dust. Powderpost beetles have long, narrow, flat bodies that allow them to easily attack wood surfaces. These beetles are reddish-brown in color.

Color: Reddish brown to black

Legs: 6

Shape: Narrow, Oval

Size: 1/8" - 1/4"

Antennae: True

Habits: Adult powderpost beetles are very active at night, enjoy flying and are attracted to the light.

Habitat: Powderpost beetles often attack hardwoods, and can be found in hardwood floors, timbers and crates, antiques and other objects made of hardwood materials.

Threats: Some researchers believe that powderpost beetles are second only to termites in the United States in their destructiveness to wood and wood products.

Prevention: Powderpost beetles can be prevented through vigilant inspection of wood sources in the home.

Subterranean Termites

Family Rhinotermitidae

Description: Subterranean termites live in underground colonies or in moist secluded areas aboveground that can contain up to 2 million members. They build distinctive "mud tubes" to gain access to food sources and to protect themselves from open air. Termite colonies are organized into castes depending on tasks -- workers, soldiers and reproductives. The characteristics of a subterranean termite are dependent on the termite's role in the colony. Cream-colored Worker subterranean termites are 1/8 to 3/8's of an inch in length. Soldier subterranean termites are of a similar body length, but are distinguished by their powerful mandibles. Solider termites have cream-colored bodies and brown heads. Reproductive subterranean termites are approximately one inch long.

Color: Lite Brown

Legs: 6

Shape: Long, Narrow, Oval

Size: 1/8"

Antennae: True

Habits: Subterranean termites live underground and build tunnels, referred to as mud tubes, to reach food sources. Like other termite species, they feed on products containing cellulose. Subterranean termites swarm in the spring -groups of reproductive termites go off to start new colonies.

Habitat: Subterranean termites need contact with the soil to survive and live underground. They can build tunnels through cracks in concrete.

Threats: Subterranean termites are by far the most destructive species. They can collapse a building entirely, meaning possible financial ruin for a homeowner. The hard, saw-toothed jaws of termites work like shears and are able to bite off extremely small fragments of wood, one piece at a time.

Prevention: Avoid water accumulation near your home's foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation. Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard. Most importantly, eliminate wood contact with the soil. Maintain a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building.

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