Several kinds of beetles damage stored wood, structural timbers and other wood products. These beetles come from at least 12 families and vary greatly in size, wood preference, nature of damage and other habits. The tunneling activities of larvae and emergence of adults can weaken the structural strength of wood and may destroy its appearance. It is important to know how to properly identify them, as control measures depend on the type of species you are dealing with. Preventing infestations with wood borer beetles is desirable, as getting rid of them will be more difficult than simple preventive measures. Wood-boring beetles attack harvested wood in structures, and so they can damage almost any wood product. These may include wooden pallets, crates, or shipping carts; firewood; and household wooden items such as picture frames, broom handles, bamboo and bamboo products, wicker baskets and furniture, carved wooden art objects, wooden artifacts, decorative driftwood, wooden furniture, and wood paneling. The adults of some species also bore into soft metals, plaster, and plastic.
Larvae are the main perpetrators of damage caused by wood-boring beetles, as the developing life forms burrow into and weaken the structural integrity of wood. However, the adults of certain species also bore into wood to deposit eggs. Larvae sometimes take a few years to develop into adults and will remain in the wood for the entire period of time. As a result, people can unwittingly bring home infested wood from the store and not become aware of the problem for years. Furthermore, the beetles within the wood may then re-infest or seek new lumber around the home. If the pests target structural wood, the home may become unsafe.
The rise of woodboring insect population over the last years is based on several factors, such as:
- Due to rising economic pressures and high costs, timber harvesting operations have been rationalized. Modern, close-to-nature forestry practices result in higher amounts of residual and dead wood, an ideal breeding ground and habitat for wood boring insects.
- Timber felled during fall/ winter, which is not removed but left unprotected in the forest, will be extremely susceptible to infestation due to low wood moisture the next spring.
- Insufficiently irrigated timber in wet storage is also at high risk in spring.
- Insects have developed well during the comparatively warm and dry recent summers. Many species were able to complete more and shorter generation cycles. Trees were under stress and therefore more susceptible to infestation.
Preventive measures against wood borers beetles
When dealing with wood, especially when beginning a building project, it is important to apply preventive measures in order to avoid any possible later infestations. As larvae can remain inside the wood for a longer period of time, it is better to use seasoned lumber and to inspect all the wood pieces you are about to use. Keep in mind that applying polyurethane, varnish, or paint prevents wood infesting beetles from boring into timber. De-barking firewood, storing the wood outside, and using it immediately when the need arises also helps keep the beetles at bay. It also helps to ventilate attics and crawlspaces while maintaining consistency in the temperature of the areas. As long as you keep moisture levels low, this will in turn prevent beetle larvae from growing and will deters the insects from burrowing.
When purchasing wood, make sure it has been properly kiln-dried or chemically treated as you need to avoid any signs of moisture that would attract any wood borer insects. Employ moisture control methods, such as vapor barriers and insulation whenever possible as most wood infesting beetle cannot develop if the moisture content is below 10 to 15 percent.
A good preventive step is to also avoid other sources of infestation such as the indoor storage of the fire wood as adult beetles can emerge from wood that is temporarily stored in the home and infest other wood structures or furniture. Always maintain a fresh coat of paint on your furniture and other type of exposed wood in your house, as this is also a way of keeping away the wood borer beetles.
By following these steps and also applying the measures listed below, the prevention of an infestation with such insects should be easily attained.
- Inspect timber and wood products when selecting, if possible, or when delivered to your home for emergence holes;
- Use wood that his been properly dried to reduce moisture that is favorable to wood-infesting beetles;
- Firewood should be debarked, split (to speed drying), and stored away from structures, and never stored for a lot of time inside;
- Reduce moisture inside the home with proper ventilation, drainage, and dehumidifiers.
- Treat unfinished wood with a borate product to prevent damage from wood-destroying organisms;
- Infested branches or limbs outdoors can be burned;
- Use storage sites free from local insect populations; storage outside of the forest, avoid sites with infestations in the previous year;
- Storage of round-wood: dry storage of debarked timber, wet storage on irrigation sites or conservation under oxygen exclusion.
You may not notice the beetles except when they collect on the window sills or corners of the rooms in your house, but you will notice the flight holes in the surface of weatherboards, wooden furniture, paneling, skirting, doors and door frames, eaves, and window frames. It is also wise to check the sub-floor and roof timers of your house for signs of borer infestation, as it is in these structural timbers that they can do the greatest harm to your house.
Keep in mind that stressed trees and shrubs tend to be more susceptible to borer infestation, so plant health care is a first line of defense. Regularly inspect susceptible trees for revealing symptoms, use proper planting methods and be careful not to wound the bark of the tree, as fresh wounds are very attractive to egg-laying adults.
When you are already dealing with an infestation, extermination methods do exist, whether they include temperature treatments or chemical ones. Dealing with just an infested piece of furniture or a larger structure, you will find eliminating methods presented in our article regarding ways in how to get rid of wood borer beetle infestation.