Many of my clients are concerned and rightly so with the presence of wood destroying organisms in their home. Whether you are a buyer looking to purchase a home or a homeowner who wants to protect your property, then the presence of wood destroying insects should be important.
The most important thing you can do is hire a licensed structural pest inspector when you get your home inspection. My WSDA (Washington State Department of Agriculture) license number is 94987. If you want to schedule a home or pest inspection give us a call at (360) 301-2035 or if you have a question about an infestation or insect you can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The first step to knowing about Wood Destroying Organisms is learning some of the basics about how they are managed. In this post, I take some of the most common insects that seem to cause problems in and around the Puget Sound Area.
Here are the organisms and how they are manage:
- Anobiid (Deathwatch Beetles): Management of anobiids involves replacing severely damaged wood and eliminating conditions that cause the wood to become moist. Proper ventilation and drainage, removal of wooden debris, and installation of a complete vapor barrier in the crawlspace reduce the likelihood of an infestation. Research conducted in the 1990s found sodium borates highly effective against structure-infesting anobiids. Adult beetles are not repelled by borates and lay eggs (oviposit) normally, but the eggs and newly emerging larvae do not survive. However, it may take several years for all existing larvae present in an infested structure to ingest a lethal dose of this pesticide. Borate treatments applied before May have greater effectiveness against eggs and newly hatched larvae. Fumigation is rarely, if ever, necessary.
- Lyctid (Powder Post Beetles): Management of Lyctids (True Powder Post Beetles) – Control usually necessitates the removal of infested wood, or in certain extreme cases, tent fumigation of the structure. You should consult a pest management professional for further evaluation. These beetles seem to be the “catch all” insect that Realtors, home inspectors and your neighbor call ANY wood infesting beetles. They are in fact, rare in crawlspaces and only appear to infest hardwoods such as maple, madrona, cherry, etc. They commonly do not infest structural timbers because most structural timbers are comprised of softwoods such as Fir.
- Carpenter Ants: Indicators of a Carpenter Ant infestation:
Sawdust (frass). Ants remove sawdust from their galleries and runways. In sound wood, galleries appear smooth as if sanded by fine sandpaper. Carpenter ant sawdust, which is light in color, often contains pieces of unconsumed insects and parts of dead colony members. The shredded piles of sawdust near or beneath the colonies are often used as indicators of an infestation. The way to tell the difference between moisture ant sawdust and carpenter ant sawdust is that the former is dark in color and found near water leaks. Carpenter ant galleries are frequently confused with dampwood termite galleries.
Presence of Workers. While an occasional ant or two may wander into a residence, frequent sightings of several or more on the premises indicates a possibility of an infestation in or near the structure.
Rustling Noises. Ants produce rustling noises in wall voids and ceilings, particularly if they are disturbed. Stethoscopes or other listening devices may be helpful in locating nests. Asking the sellers if they have heard rustling noises can be useful in locating nests.
Trails. Foraging trails provide another clue; these are easiest to locate at night between sunset and sunrise when foragers are most active. Foraging trails lead away from a structure and the perimeter should be carefully searched, especially in the proximity of evergreen trees and shrubs. Also, check the other routes by which ants may leave the structure, such as utility wires (be aware that the inspection of wires has inherent dangers and certain precautions must be taken), fences, garden hoses, and vegetation in contact with the structure.
- Moisture Ants: Management of Moisture Ants involves removing infested wood and controlling moisture – this should eliminate most moisture ant problems. If this does not solve the issue, then a Pest Management professional should be contacted for further evaluation.
We hope that this information helps you choose a qualified inspector.