By Rich Cosgrove, President Stark Trumbull Area REALTORS®
As the temperatures increase and rain clouds are replaced with sunshine and a nice breeze, more people may be spending extra time outside and away from home. While you are out for a walk or going for a picnic in the park, there may be creepy crawlies that are moving in. Wood destroying insects such as termites, carpenter ants, bees, and powderpost beetles are not only annoying they are a threat to your home. Here is what to look for and what do if you spot any unwelcomed insects around your home.
There are several types of termites and the most common species in Ohio is the subterranean termite. They are around ¼ – ½ inch long and can be easily identified by their dark brown, large, protruding mandibles and light-colored bodies. According to Houselogic, termites enjoy soft, damaged, and layered wood that touches the ground. Termites really like dead tree stumps and can invade those easily.
You can confirm an infestation from termite corpses and broken wings that look like fish scales throughout the interior and exterior of your property. These are often the collection of deceased swarmers, or reproductive termites that recently gathered in that area. If you notice a gritty, gray-brown film on the surface of damaged material, or if a screwdriver can easily pierce the surface of the wood, you most likely have an infestation on your hands.
Similar in size to termites, carpenter ants also range from ¼ – ½ inch in length and can be red, black or brown. Carpenter ant workers have large mandibles while swarmer ants have wings. They are best identified by their large, reddish brown heads and black abdomens.
The best way to identify an infestation is from a combination of the worker and swarmer ants. If you spot a few in your area, check around to see if you can locate the colony. As they bore into wood to build their nests, you may find a pile of wood shavings and fecal matter nearby. Damp and decayed wood is often the most suitable place for carpenter ants. It is a good idea to keep an eye on wood structures that are aged or exposed to high humidity.
Powderpost beetles are approximately 5/16 of an inch long. They are brown or black in color and can be identified by their head disappearing when looked at from above. These small bugs have a set of wings with two antennae at the top of their head and a smaller set of mandibles compared to their aforementioned wood boring counterparts.
Powderpost beetles lay their eggs in cracks, crevices, and pores of wood structures as a sustainable food source for their larvae. To spot an infestation you may notice frass deposits in addition to pinhead sized holes that serve as an exit for adult beetles. Anobiid Powderpost beetles attack softwood such as spruce and pine whereas lyctid beetles prefer hardwood such as oak, ash and hickory species.
If you think you have an infestation, the best thing to do is call a pest control specialist. In addition to treatment, the specialist can tell you If the insects have caused structural damage. You may need to contact a structural contractor to make repairs even after the property has been treated. It is always a good idea to keep all records of any wood destroying insect damage, treatment, or repairs for when you are ready to sell your home. A wood destroying insect inspection is a common choice for buyers and with proper records you may be able to skip a second round of treatment. Your REALTOR® can recommend pest control specialists or structural contractors.
Rich Cosgrove is the President of Stark Trumbull Area Realtors which serves Stark, Carroll, and Trumbull counties. Visit the website www.star.realtor for a complete listing of Realtor and Affiliate members. If you have any questions or comments on this article, please contact Cosgrove by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.