Combat insects that feast on your home

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:58

    There are a myriad of insects living in this world, and unfortunately, a few of them view the wooden structures of your home as a tasty meal or the ideal places to create a nest. Here’s how to recognize the most common culprits: Carpenter Bees: These large aerial acrobats resemble their cousins, bumblebees, but have a shiny, hairless upper abdomen surface with yellow-colored hairs on the mid-section, or thorax, while bumblebees have a hairy yellow upper abdominal surface. Although they look intimidating, these bees are actually not aggressive like wasps or yellowjackets. But they may give you a scare as they swoop and stagger in their haphazard flight patterns. The biggest concern caused by these insects is the damage they do to your home’s exterior. Carpenter bees get their name from the round 3/8-inch hole they bore into the unfinished wood areas of your home, like eaves and sills. After chewing the hole, they’ll make a 90-degree turn and hollow out a small channel to lay eggs and await the hatching of larvae. Typically, the bees will use the same “nest” each year, but other carpenter bees might be inclined to take up residence in your home as well - leaving you with dozens of holes. To add insult to injury, those wiggling larvae hidden within their cozy channels are tasty treats for woodpeckers. Therefore, double damage can be done to your house as the woodpeckers forage for the larvae. Pest solution: Soft woods like pine make it easy for carpenter bees to chew and burrow. Choose hardwoods to replace softwoods on your home, or seal up the holes that were previously made so that carpenter bees won’t be tempted to return. You can also paint and seal wood surfaces well to prevent the bees from burrowing. If none of these measures work, look for exterminating sprays for flying insects, or call in a professional. Carpenter Ants: The usual carpenter ant is large and black, but you might/could have the Florida Carpenter ant, which is smaller and in a range of colors: yellow, red, brown or black. While carpenter ants aren’t harmful (they generally eat plants and other insects), they can damage the wood of your home. You’ll likely not realize any damage has been done until you see swarms of the ants indoors. Typically, these ants like moist softwoods for their nests. They’re most commonly found in moist, hollow spaces, like the wall behind a dishwasher or where water leakage could occur - around bathtubs, sinks, roof leaks, poorly flashed chimneys, or poorly sealed windows or door frames. The nests, called “galleries,” are quite clean and have a sandpaper appearance. Pest solution: These ants may have nests inside and outside of your home. Therefore, a good perimeter treatment of a pesticide outside your home will be sufficient to exterminate the ants inside your home as well. The outdoor ants will spread the poison to their colony inside as they venture to and from their indoor and outdoor nests. Spray around the foundation of your home, up around two to three feet, as well as around the ground floor doors and windows. Spray in the garage and basement areas, all along the baseboards. Termites: Subterranean termites are generally the most common type of wood-destroying termite colony. However, there are other varieties like the drywood and dampwood termites that don’t require moisture from the ground to survive. Termites feed on materials that contain cellulose, the principle component of the cell walls of plants, primarily dead wood and wood by-products. Subterranean termites will dig tunnels in the ground to reach food and water. It is important for homeowners to recognize the signs of a subterranean termite infestation. Subterranean termites may be detected by the sudden emergence of winged termites, or by the presence of mud tubes found in soil and damaged wood. Winged termites are attracted to light, and they shed their wings in windowsills, cobwebs, or on other surfaces, which often may be the only evidence that a swarm is present indoors. The presence of winged termites or their shed wings inside a home is definitely a warning of a termite infestation. Pest solution: Avoid having moist areas or water accumulation around the perimeter of your home. Since termites feed slowly, if they are detected relatively quickly, you’ll have ample time to call in a professional termite exterminator. He will be able to assess the level of damage and provide a course of treatment.