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3 Wood-Boring Insects and Their Effect on Home Exteriors

Home inspection training

Wood lasts for hundreds of years with the right care, but there’s one issue that can happen to almost anywhere that puts it all at risk. Wood-boring insects are the bane of existence for homeowners with wood siding, wood trim, or wood almost anywhere else.

Willful varmints such as termites and certain ants can work their way under masonry and metal siding to munch on wood framing members underneath. Even more surprising is that in cases where insects are quite single-minded, they can tunnel through cracks in concrete, across walls and ceilings, and make a meal out of wood furniture and floors.

Who are the worse offenders? Here are three of them.

#1: Termites Damage Homes and Can Even Kill a Sale

Every house that’s financed needs a termite letter that certifies the house is free from the wood-destroying pest. Without it, the lender might not finance the home. Buyers usually have a choice about whether or not to get a general home inspection. For termites, it’s a requirement.

Termites can attack part of a house or all of it looking for a tasty meal of wood cellulose, which is found in any piece of lumber. They’re hard to eliminate, but it is possible to evict them with a good exterminator.

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Carpenter bees might look and sound ferocious, but they’re much more threatening to wood than people.

Not only do termites leave pits and holes that look unattractive, they weaken the structural integrity of a home. And unlike many other wood-boring pests, Pests Guru says they’re so determined that some will tunnel through cracks in masonry and build surface tunnels or mud tubes across walls just to chew on a lovely coffee table or hardwood floor.

#2: Carpenter Bees Leave Gaping Holes

Where termites tend to leave lots of small holes, pits and tunnels, carpenter bees are loud and proud. Their size makes them look intimidating, but they’d rather chew on a house than on you. They buzz around exposed wood wherever they can find it and leave holes that are sometimes large enough for a golf ball to fit through.

These holes aren’t just signs of gnawing; they’re nurseries where busy adult bees lay their eggs. That’s right. When you see holes, you’ve got a nest.

Carpenter bees tend to stick with easily accessible wood. Termites will march on through almost anything to find more places to nest. Bees will drill through your siding trim, a wood door or a front porch post to build a nursery for the next generation. Killing the bees and their larvae plus plugging up all of the holes tends to be the most effective eradication route, says Best Bee Brothers.

#3: Carpenter Ants Don’t Build a Thing 

Carpenter ant damage is frequently confused with a termite infestation. The damage looks similar, but the pests are very different. Unlike termites, but more similar to bees, carpenter ants drill through wood to build a nest.

You might spot small holes on the surface, but underneath there may be widespread hollows that seriously compromises the structural integrity. The only way to get rid of them is to kill them, one and all. Then, block up all access for new ants to move in and continue the unwanted renovations.

Although many homeowners can handle a bee infestation, Modern Pest says carpenter ants are more akin to termites in the challenges that they bring. Professional extermination and filling the holes left behind is a good one-two punch.

Wood-boring insects can work shamelessly in broad daylight, which is what carpenter bees tend to do. Or they can be sneaky little things that cause widespread damage long before the homeowner knows they’re there. Either way, the only good wood-destroying critter is an absent one. When you spot signs of wood destruction in a home inspection, your client has some work ahead to take back their home and keep it pest-free.

ICA School home inspection training doesn’t just teach you how to inspect a house. Our program also includes resources for special inspections for defects such as a termite infestation. If you’re ready to start a new career that’s fulfilling for you and helpful for every customer you serve, enroll now.  In a few weeks, you could have your own business.

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