Wood destroying insects cause more damage to homes than tornadoes and flooding each year. The cost of these repairs can be prevented with early detection with an inspection. Have your home checked annually to prevent heavy damage and large repair costs.
- WDI report is needed for most house sales
- Termite damage in homes far exceeds damage from tornadoes and flooding
- Homeowners can save money on repair costs via early detection with this inspection
WDI Report (NPMA-33)
Government funded loans comes with their own sets of obstacles. As these loans became available so did a need for a standardized wood destroying inspection form. The NPMA-33 was that form. Even though only the government aided loans are required to have the specific NPMA-33 form, it has become the standard for WDI throughout the real-estate market. The perk of this is an inspector has to be certified by the state to properly use this form. This will give a home buyer a better peace of mind.
Termites are a wood destroying insect that actually eat the wood and digest it. They use the digested portions to create the mud tubes that have to be used for traveling. They can consume anything with cellulose. Examples include wood, Styrofoam, synthetic materials, paper, etc.
Workers, Soldiers, and Reproductives.
- unlike ants, the workers are creamy soft bodied insects that have a two parts a head and body. The head is very hard with mouth parts capable of breaking up wood. The workers’ jobs include searching for food, creating mud tubes, building out the colony, and feeding and grooming all other colony members.
- The soldiers look the same as the workers except they have a large dark head for fighting off predators. These termites are fed by the workers and are much fewer in number.
- The reproductives establish new colonies during swarming season. These are the closest in resemblance to an ant. They are black in color and winged. They still have just two part that include a head and a body unlike an ant that has three parts. Their wings are also the same size and shape.
Termites develop a colony underground where the moisture levels are suitable and building. From there traveling tunnels known as mud tubes are built to allow them to travel to and from their food source. Termites bodies can dry out and they can die quickly if exposed to dry air. This is why they travel in mud tubes. These tubes keep the proper humidity for their living conditions. If areas are kept dry, they are less likely to form a colony in those areas. Colonies can produce up to 50,000 workers in a 3-5 year period depending on conditions and reach a few hundred thousand by 10 years. Once a mature colony has been achieved, the reproductives will swarm to establish a new colony and the cycle begins again.
Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not travel in a mud like tube that is created from the wood it chews through. In fact, a carpenter ant doesn’t eat the wood at all. They just chew it up to get it out of the way. Carpenter ants tunnels and nests are kept super clean for its workers to perform efficiently.
Carpenter ants are dark in color and typically around ¼ to ½ inches. A mature colony will reach over 3,000 workers. Once this is achieved, the colony will start producing winged swarmers known as Alates. These Alates are both male and female. In the spring, the swarmers will leave the nest in search for new breading grounds. Swarmers will mate in the air and the process starts all over again.
Powder Post Beetles
There are several types of beetles when we talk about “Powder Post Beetles”. They are all categorized as such because they all do the same types of damage. Some species will eat all types of wood where other are a little more picky and stick to just hard wood. But, they are all known for the fine sawdust left behind at their small exit holes.
A red to black beetle will fly to a wood source and lay their eggs. From there the eggs will hatch and larva will burrow into the wood and begin to feed. Some of these beetles’ larva will tunnel and feed for several years depending on the conditions (wood type, temperature, etc.). When the larva is ready to pupate, it will burrow to just below the wood surface. From spring to midsummer, the adult beetle will emerge and fly away leaving the notable holes in the wood with some fine sawdust known as frass around the exit hole. In most cases, several beetles will leave about the same time leaving a look that the wood a “bird shot” look. If an area is not readily accessible, these beetles can cause an extreme amout of damage before detected.
How to Look for an Infestation
- The exit holes will look like bird shot
- Fresh frass will be around the exit holes and on ground beneath
Wood Boring Bees (Carpenter Bees)
Carpenter bees are large bees typically found flying around an exposed wooden structure such as a lean-to or gazebo. These bees look very intimidating, but most don’t even have stingers and the ones that do will rarely use them. Around April or May, the female bees will drill (chew) a tunnel around 3/8” thick. It will look like someone randomly drilled some holes in the wood. She will then lay her eggs in this hole. Inside the wood there is actually multiple chambers and a single egg is laid in each. She will then deposit pollen in each chamber for the larva to feed on when they merge. The female then dies inside they hole after sealing it from within. Around August the larva will mature and by September a full grown adult will emerge to search for food. These adults will re-enter the hole or one nearby and stay there until spring.
How to Look for a Carpenter Bee Infestation
- Sawdust under a 3/8” drilled hole
- The hole will possible have staining around hole from its defecation
- An unusual amount of bee activity around the structure
- The sound of a bee drilling into the structure can also be heard
Wood Destroying Insects Inspection
What should you expect when seeing an inspector performing a WDI inspection? The inspector with usually have a long screw driver or stick with a spiked tip. This is to perform a pick test around the home and in the crawlspace or basement area. Typically the inspector will gently prod wooden areas with the pick looking for soft spots. If a termite tunnel system is found, the pick will punch through the wood member and a clean break will reveal a hidden tunnel. From that point, an inspector will try to find the range of the damage to determine if is an active infestation or an old one. Active the termite tubes will be damp or have live insects. Inspectors will also use a flashlight on the interior. If tunnels are in the drywall, the walls will normally give a shadow. Other areas checked are the attic. Sometimes an infestation can only be seen from the wood structure in the attic space.
- Concrete and bricks that have cracks or open voids are hidden highways
- Wooden posts that are in direct contact with the soil underneath
- Concrete porches that had soil filled to the concrete slab
- Leaky pipes and water sources that keep the soil damp around the structure
- Allowing debris or vegetation to block vents around home will prevent the crawlspace to air out properly and keep soil moist
- Leaving organic debris in crawlspace giving wood destroying insects a food supply
- Houses that rest lower to the ground (small crawlspace) make it easier to develop a colony
- Stucco and brick siding that drop below the soil surface allows for hidden access
- Built in planters give a direct contact to foundation cracks
- Wooden forms that are left when a concrete slab is formed give a food source and an access
- Wooden porch steps that are in contact with the soil and built into home give entry points
- Conditioned crawlspaces keep the soil warm to allow colonies to work year round
- Any type of paper backed product (drywall, insulation, and duct work) allows food and a means of access
- Any type of wood structure (fences, trellises, etc.) that come into contact to home can provide access