Dealing with Unwanted Visitors

Spring and summertime are often seasons to welcome friends and family to your home, but there are some visitors we'd rather not host! As warm temperatures arrive, the resident mice tend to leave for greener pastures, but wood boring insects now become the nuisance pests for old house and barn owners. 

Now is the time to assess your buildings for these unwelcome pests and take the necessary steps to eradicate them if they are found. A homeowner can do this by close examination of the basement, attic, house exterior and barn looking for fine saw dust, mud tunnels and other signs of destructive pests.

Carpenter bees, destructive wood boring insects that resemble bumble bees,  can often be found by looking for mustard colored droppings on the clapboards of your house just under the 1/2+" round holes they have bored in your eaves. Fine saw dust can also be found under the entrance holes and is an easy way to find these destructive bees. These holes are the entrance to the tunnels they have created to house their brood.

Carpenter ants too, can be found by looking for sawdust in crawlspaces, basements and other damp spaces. Carpenter ants are attracted to moist areas in your building's frame to build their nests. Like carpenter bees, carpenter ants do not eat the wood, but are very destructive as they burrow through to make their nests.

Powder post beetles are another insect which will cause irreplaceable damage to wood members of your house or barn. Their activity can be identified by fresh piles of fine powder-like frass beneath very small holes (pin to pencil tip size) produced by the adults burrowing out of the wood, or you may hear an actual ticking sound made by the larvae eating the wood. The adult beetles do very little damage to the wood.

Termites are the most destructive of them all because they do eat the wood and workers will eat through plaster, foam, plastic, or asphalt to get to wood. The links listed below can help with insect identification and methods for removal.  While some of these pests can easily be controlled by homeowners, termites might be best handled by a professional. 

Here is some additional information:

http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/carpenter-bees

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/carpenter-ants/

http://www.doyourownpestcontrol.com/powderpostbeetles.htm

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,609512,00.html