4 pests that may eat into your house

July 29, 2015

There are plenty of pests that can get into your home. A few will even eat their way in. Here's how to spot them and stop them.

4 pests that may eat into your house

1. Wood-loving termites

  • Termites are extremely serious pests that must be dealt with as soon as they're spotted. They have the capacity to inflict swift, major damage.
  • The warmer the climate, the greater the risk of getting termites.
  • Even if the house has a termite-resistant steel frame or masonry walls, timber trim or objects stored inside may be enough to attract them.
  • If the house you're renovating has termite damage, get an expert to either kill the pests or declare that they're no longer active. Then, assess the severity of the damage before making repairs.
  • Badly affected timbers need to be replaced. If they're at floor level, and supporting considerable weights, then kiln-dried or other forms of well-seasoned timber must be used.
  • Using wood again may cause shrinkage, leading to building settling in the future.
  • Minor damage can often be ignored.

2. Borer infestations

  • Borers are beetle-like insects that eat wood. There are several species. Some of them attack green timber, others only seasoned timber.
  • If you intend to cut your own timber, remember that even though some timbers are considered durable and resistant to pests, their sapwood may not be.
  • It's a good idea to ask your local forestry authority representative about the properties of timbers you want to use.

3. How to spot powder post borers

  • The Lyctus borer, also called the powder post borer, attacks the sapwood of some hardwoods.
  • Lyctus borers lays eggs in the tiny pores of timber. When the larvae hatch, they bore their way through the timber, travelling in the direction of the grain and packing the holes behind them with fine dust.
  • The borer grows into an adult beetle which tunnels its way out of the timber, making a "flight hole" and forcing a small amount of fine dust ahead of it.
  • Flight holes on the surface of the timber, accompanied by a small mound of fine dust below, are often the first indication that Lyctus borers are present in the home.
  • Lyctus borers are usually more of nuisance than a truly serious pest. They rarely cause enough damage to require replacement, unless the timber is of exceptionally poor quality in the first place.

4. Stopping furniture beetles

  • The Anobium borer, also called the furniture beetle, attacks mainly softwoods and is occasionally found in imported furniture.
  • They favour old Baltic pine flooring and sapwood.
  • The damage it can do is extensive, resulting in floors that are unsafe to walk on.
  • If softwood floor boards show a couple of holes within a few ­centimetres of each other, it's probably of no great concern. But any amount of holes demands attention.
  • Badly affected timber develops a honeycombed look. In such cases, the floor will usually have to be replaced.

There are several common pests capable of chewing their way through a house's timbers. All infestations have to be assessed separately, as replacement isn't always necessary. Keep an eye out and use quality materials to reduce your chances of getting a visit.

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