Wood Destroying Beetles
Beetles are the largest order of identified species on the planet. Most beetles are harmless to man and his crops or structures. There are a few species that attack and damage the woodwork within buildings that people build. When conditions are right they can do serious damage to a structure.
Although we do encounter these pests occasionally in the Fresno area, wood destroying beetles are not a major economic pest of structures in this part of California. In other areas of the state and the nation they are an extremely serious pest problem. There are many types of wood destroying beetles that attack living trees. These are a major pest concern to growers with orchards.
Adult wood destroying beetles lay their eggs in target wood. The eggs hatch into larvae (sometimes called "wood worms"). The larvae are capable of digesting the wood for the stored starches in the cellulose. The larvae pupate (go into their cocoon stage) within the wood, emerge as adults, and then after mating lay eggs back in the wood.
Typically, all of the species that attack seasoned wood in structures require a fairly humid environment to be at their best. Our dry, Mediterranean climate is our first and best defense.
We encounter wood destroying beetles most often in wood floored houses with poorly ventilated crawl spaces. This situation provides the beetles with the conditions they require.
Control of wood destroying beetles requires correction of commonly controllable moisture conditions, repairing the damage the beetles did, and steps taken to exterminate the infestation.
Before anything is done an accurate identification is critical!
With most types of beetles, correction of the moisture problem is the most important step. Once the wood dries out and the damage is repaired, many species of beetles simply will not re-infest.
With other species, or where complete moisture correction isn't practical, some form of treatment is necessary. Treatment may involve topical applications of wood preservatives, such as boric acid compounds, or may be as involved as a structural fumigation.
As in all other aspects of wood destroying organism control, a well trained and experienced professional is your best hope of gaining control of these pests in the most cost-effective manner.
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