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The eastern subterranean termite inflicts a substantial amount of property damage in the northeast United States every year, but termites are not the only insect pests in the region that pose a threat to timber-framed structures. Insects like carpenter bees and carpenter ants, particularly black carpenter ants, bore into structural wood within homes as well as cosmetic wood on the exterior of homes. Unlike the highly destructive eastern subterranean termite, these two groups of wood-infesting insect pests do not consume wood; instead, these pests bore into wood for nesting purposes. While carpenter ants and carpenter bees frequently inflict damage to finished wood sources in the northeast, they are not nearly as destructive as subterranean termites are in the region. However, wood-boring beetle infestations are more common in the northeast than eastern subterranean termite infestations, but this is due to the fact that multiple wood-boring beetle species inhabit the region, while only one subterranean termite pest is native to most areas of the northeast. The most common wood-infesting beetle pests in the northeast include powderpost beetles, old house borers, and wharf borers, all of which consume and nest within finished wood sources.

The old house borer is a non-native species in the US, and they are most abundant along the northeastern seaboard. Mature old house borer females deposit their eggs on the porous surface of natural and finished woods, and when these eggs hatch, emerging larvae bore into wood where they remain for a period lasting between 2 and 10 years. Unsurprisingly, old house borer infestations can be economically devastating for homeowners, but despite this insect species’ common name, old house borer infestations are most commonly found within the structural wood of homes that are less than 10 years old. Larvae feed on the sapwood of softwood of a variety of different timbers, but they prefer to infest pine, fir, and spruce. Structural wood that has a 10 percent moisture content or more is most ideal for old house borer larvae, and they develop most rapidly in homes where the internal temperature is between 68 and 88 degrees. These pests also prefer to nest within structural wood that is located in humid areas of a home, such as in wall-voids and beneath floor-boards in bathrooms. Infestations are almost exclusively found in conditions where the relative humidity measures between 80 and 90 percent. Old house borer infestations are usually noticed by the indoor presence of adults, and eradicating infestations typically requires professional assistance.

Have you, or anyone you know ever experienced a wood-boring beetle infestation?