Identify Wood Boring and Wood Destroying Insects, Wood Eating Insects

Wood Destroying Insects

— Insects cause damage in a variety of ways —

Summary: The wood-destroying insects can damage wood and other building materials in many different ways. Termites, carpenter ants and several «powderpost» beetles are the most important wood-destroying pests overall. See the reference identification table below for a list of the major, and some minor, wood-damaging pests.

Jack DeAngelis, ext. entomologist (ret.) revised: 11/2018

Insects that damage wood

Fortunately, only a few insects actually damage sound, dry wood. Of these, termites, both subterranean termites and drywood termites, carpenter ants and certain powderpost beetles are the primary insects that can destroy wood. Dry-rot fungi are the primary wood decay organisms where high moisture permits the fungus to grow. The potential for damage from any of these pests varies by region and climate with more damage in warm, wet climates and generally less in cool, dry climates. There are also a few that can do significant cosmetic damage but rarely impact the wood’s intrinsic strength.

The potential for insect damage in any particular geographical region also varies by insect pest. Termites, for example, tend to be of more concern in warm climates whereas carpenter ants tend to be more important in cooler climates. Damage in structural softwoods, such as posts and beams, from wood-boring powderpost beetles occurs mostly in damp/coastal climates. Powderpost beetles can damage hardwoods, like flooring and furniture, in any climate.

Characteristics of wood-damaging insects

Download this Wood Damaging Insects*** table that lists the key characteristics of the major and minor insect pests of both softwoods and hardwoods. The table can help to identify your wood damage.

***The file is downloadable as a pdf so you’ll need Acrobat Reader or equivalent to open it. This version is modified from a similar table published in 1979 by Harry B. Moore in a bulletin titled Wood-Inhabiting Insects in Houses, USDA, FS and HUD.

Control of wood-damaging pests

Most wood damage from insects and fungal rot can be prevented with relatively low toxicity insecticides and/or pest-targeted baits. Use the following links for supplies and how-to instructions.

    Carpenter ants are large black ants that nest in structures causing damage. Baits combined with foundation «perimeter» sprays are generally the best approach to protect structures.
    Dry-rot fungi attack and weaken wood. Wood preservatives such as Bora Care and Timbor can be used to protect structural wood.
    Powderpost beetle larvae bore in and damage hardwoods and softwoods. Borate insecticides like Bora Care and Timbor will prevent new infestations.
    Carpenter bees are large wood-boring bees that resemble bumble bees.
    Termites — while most people opt to hire a pest control company to treat for termites, there are now very effective DIY available.

Professional perimeter sprays, baits and wall void treatments generally are not available in home and garden stores but can be found at DoMyOwn, our affiliate.

How to search ‘Bugs for more information

The easiest way is to open a Google search page and type: «your query» + into the search box. For example, to find all ‘Bugs articles about carpenter ants type: carpenter ants + in the search box.

The resulting list of pages may contain some Google advertising (marked with «Ad» next to the URL) as well relevant pages from ‘Bugs. The ads do not originate with ‘Bugs.

Sowbug & Pillbug

Learn how to identify and effectively control roly-poly bugs using proven, organic techniques.

Often found in home gardens and landscaped areas across the country, sowbugs (Porcellio scaber) and pillbugs (Armadillidium vulgare), also known as roly polies, feed primarily on decaying matter and are important in the decomposition process. However, if present in large numbers they have been known to feed on seedlings, new roots, lower leaves and fruits or vegetables laying directly on the soil. These small scavengers scurry when disturbed and are often found outside hiding under leaves, rocks, garden debris, mulch and other dark, damp areas. Occasionally they will enter homes as accidental invaders. Indoors they are simply a nuisance and cannot survive for more than a day or two without water. These insects do not bite or sting and cannot damage household structures.


Similar in appearance, sowbugs and pillbugs (3/4 inch long) are slow-moving oval-shaped crustaceans that more closely resemble crayfish, shrimp and lobster than insects. They vary from gray to brown to almost purple in color and have seven pairs of legs, elbowed antennae, and a segmented hard shell-like covering, similar to that of an armadillos. Sowbugs also have two tail-like structures on the rear end that pillbugs lack.

Note: Pillbugs are sometimes called “roly-polies” because they often roll up into a tight ball when disturbed.

Life Cycle

Both sowbugs and pillbugs mate throughout the year with most of the activity occurring in March and April. The female incubates her eggs in a fluid-filled pouch (marsupium) located on the underside of her body for 3-7 weeks. After hatching, the young nymphs (similar in appearance to adults, only smaller) remain in the pouch for up to two months until they can care for themselves. Nymphs molt, or shed their exoskeleton, at regular intervals and reach sexual maturity, usually within a year. As adults, they continue to molt about once every month. Females can produce broods of approximately 30-40 young that may live up to 3 years. There are one to two generations per year, depending on weather conditions.

Sowbug/ Pillbug Control

  1. To get rid of roly poly bugs reduce the habitat favored by these pests by eliminating garden debris, leaf piles, fallen fruit and weeds from all growing areas.
  2. Use mulches that are coarse enough to let water pass through easily so the surface next to plants will not remain damp for long.
  3. Improve air circulation around plants by providing trellises for vines and raising fruits, such as strawberries and melons, up off the ground.
  4. Diatomaceous earth, made from the finely ground fossils of prehistoric fresh water diatoms (one-celled shells), is abrasive to crawling insects and can be used as a barrier to protect plants.
  5. Apply Insect Killer Granules around foundations, lawns and landscaped areas to eliminate or repel all kinds of troublesome pests.
  6. Scatter Monterey Ant Control, a safe and organic bait containing iron phosphate and spinosad, evenly over the soil around or near problem areas.
  7. Apply fast-acting botanical insecticides as a soil drench if pest levels become intolerable.
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Tip: Black plastic mulches will discourage many insects by creating an environment that is too hot for them.

Note: If pests are a problem indoors repair and seal cracks in the foundation wall, around basement windows and along door jambs. Reduce high moisture areas near possible entry points by properly draining water away from the house.

Recommended Products

Insect Granules

Easy to apply formula works on contact, yet is completely safe around children and pets!

Ant Control

An easy to apply outdoor bait that contains iron phosphate and spinosad.

Yard & Garden

Kills aphids, beetles, ants and caterpillars on contact, yet is gentle on plants.


A powerful, fast-acting formula made to provide broad spectrum relief.

How to Identify and Get Rid of Common Lawn Pests

Many insects feed on the grass and cause damage to your lawn. Here are some tips to help you identify some pests and how to get rid of them for a healthy lawn.


What do grubs look like?

Grubs are the larvae of different kinds of beetles; Japanese Beetle, European Chafer, or the June bug. They are “C” shaped, milky white in colour, with a brown head, and six prominent legs.

What are the damages?

Grubs feed on grass roots which will cause dead grass on your lawn that will lift like a piece of carpet if pulled. This damage begins around the end of July thru the beginning of August. First signs of damage will be in full sun, well drained locations.

How to get rid of grubs

The best time to control grubs is early August, when the larvae are small and actively feeding near the surface. Begin applying nematodes in August to destroy these destructive insects for one full year. For heavy infestations you may need to repeat in September. After September or even in the spring they are much harder to control.

What do ants look like?

Ants are social insects that live in colonies that may contain one or more queens.

What are the damages?

Left unchecked, ants can upset the roots of plants, cause deep holes in the lawn, or find their way into your house. Long-term control of ants can only be achieved by destroying the nest and the queen. Ants generally feed on a variety of small insects (found or captured), plant nectar, or honey dew caused by weeping plants.

How to get rid of ants

They require a diet of carbs and protein, it’s best to bait a protein bait like ant traps. This will ensure complete control.


What do chinch bugs look like?

Chinch bugs are quite small, with adults being 4mm and are blackish brown insects with two white marks on their backs.

What are the damages?

Chinch bug suck the sap from grass, usually leaving random patches of dead grass, in large infestations your whole lawn can be affected. They thrive in hot dry weather, and are most active on days when the temperature is above 20°C, typically affecting sunny areas first. They feed most heavily from mid-July to mid-August, and this window is the most effective control period.

How to get rid of chinch bugs

If you are unsure if you have chinch bug, try parting the grass and looking at the base of the grass plants to look for them. If you’re still not sure try creating a cylinder by removing the top and bottom of a can and force one end of the cylinder into the infested soil. Now fill it with water and wait to see if they float to the surface. Once you’re sure they are chinch bugs begin treating nematodes.


What do sod webworms look like?

Adults are small, light-coloured moths that fly up from the lawn, travelling in a zig-zag pattern, in the evening when they are disturbed.

What are the damages?

Sod Webworm, or Lawn Moths, feed on blades of grass, chewing them off at ground level. Damage will appear as brown patches in the driest area of the lawn. Dead grass will pull away in clumps. Damage usually appears in late August and September.

How to get rid of sod webworms?

To treat use nematodes, applied at the first sign of an infestation.


What do European cranefly larvaes look like?

The adult Crane Fly looks like a large mosquito, is not harmful to your lawn, but the grub stage known as a Leatherjacket can be very destructive.

What are the damages?

The larvae feed on grass roots and blades in the fall and spring. The worst damage is done in March and April. They are found just under the surface of the soil and after June they will begin to emerge as the European Cranefly. The Cranefly lives for only one week, with its sole purpose being to reproduce. Once it has laid its eggs in the soil it dies off, but those eggs will hatch in approximately 11 – 15 days, so without treatment they can quickly multiply and destroy a lawn.

How to get rid of European cranefly larvae?

Treatment is best done in mid-October or in the spring months, when weather permits, with Nematodes.

Coconut rhinoceros beetle threatens palm trees and Solomon Islanders’ livelihood

Updated March 12, 2018 20:05:20

Solomon Islanders are facing a bleak future as the coconut rhinoceros beetle marches across its fertile plains, killing their «tree of life» by the millions.

But these Pacific islanders do not rely on the ubiquitous fruit just for nutrition — the coconuts supply the palms’ valuable cash crops of oil and copra, while the tree is also used for building and making essential household goods.

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The coconut rhinoceros beetle has already browned-off the verdant landscape around the capital, Honiara.

Over the past three years, it has ferociously attacked the massive plantations of Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited (GPPOL), east of the city. Its general manager Craig Gibsone fears for future.

«We’re under attack, we’re fighting for survival, the attack is just so severe,» Mr Gibsone said.

«At the moment, I won’t say that we’re losing but we’re certainly not winning … it just seems to be getting worse.»

With exports of palm oil and copra worth at least $50 million a year, there are fears processed foods will replace its nutrition.

With the discovery that the beetle has now reached the southern hemisphere’s largest plantation in the Russell Islands, the country’s Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Taskforce has ramped up its community campaign.

Islanders to ‘change habits of a lifetime’

As part of the solution, a workshop in Honiara this week tackled the sensitive task of convincing the community that villagers need to change the way they manage their coconut trees.

«That’s the big issue at the moment: to try and persuade village farmers to change habits of a lifetime,» taskforce head Bob Macfarlane said.

«In the past, they could let a palm die and fall down and rot and it didn’t matter … you didn’t have to do anything at all … that must change now.

«Every palm that dies must either be used in some way, for charcoal, for timber, for veneering or whatever.»

Rhinoceros beetle larvae breed and feed on dead palm trees, which is why GPPOL is attacking the problem at its conception.

GPPOL employs 1,500 people on the Guadalcanal plains, who mostly live onsite with their families.

In order to tackle the intruder, however, the company has taken on 100 workers to search out larvae in their rotting habitats and destroy them — a dozen crates full is a good day’s work.

«I’ve heard figures of loss of 50 per cent of crop in the years following a major attack … and that’s if we can control it … if we don’t get control of [the situation], I fear we might lose oil palm altogether,» Mr Gibsone said.

Searching for a virus to control the beetles

The silver bullet, though, is a biological control like the virus that saved the coconuts plantations of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga 60 years ago, when another variety of rhinoceros beetle destroyed more than half of them.

Sadly, the Solomon Islands’ coconut rhinoceros beetle is resistant to the virus that worked in Fiji so the search is on for its own biological control.

«You have to match the DNA of the strain of beetle that we have with DNA from the country of origin,» Mr Macfarlane said.

«There’s no certainty yet but we believe it comes from the Philippines or Indonesia or Vietnam and we have to do a DNA match and then try and identify what is keeping it under control in those countries and then import that.»

Can Solomon Islands live with the rhinoceros beetle or will it be forever changed? «[It’s] a big question,» Mr Macfarlane said.

«If we can get the right disease … the right parasite, predator, population suppressing organism, whatever you want to call it … into the country and we get the population down and people do change their behaviour in that they’re cleaning up the breeding sites, then yes, we can get back to something like what it was before, but there are a lot of ifs and buts along the way.»

Mr Gibsone has explained that the stakes are much higher than the future of his company.

«It’s a great crop for tropical countries, especially developing tropical countries and we employ a lot of people here … we support a lot of local people who have their own oil palm, and we have plans for expansion because it is a good growing region [with] great yields, but first we have to get on top of this beetle,» he said.

Woodbug beetle — identify and destroy

Table Of Contents

An evenly green, thriving lawn is a beautiful thing. It’s every homeowner’s dream, but a lot of times it remains just that, a dream. There are many reasons why your lawn may not be living up to your expectations. It can be something harmless and easy to fix like not following the simple do’s and don’ts of lawn care, or it can be something more serious like a pest infestation. Heres some ideas about how to identify and get rid of lawn pests.

Pest infestations can destroy a lawn in a matter of days. We want to make sure you know how to identify one as soon as possible and what to do if one occurs.

how to identify and get rid of lawn pests

From grass munchers to borrowers, there’s actually quite a wide variety of pests that could be creating a home for themselves in your lawn. The first step to preventing pest infestations is knowing what kind of pests are found in lawns and why they’re harmful.


Burrowing pests are ones that live underground and create tunnels and nests right below your feet. These lawn pests are not always easy to identify and can be difficult to get rid of. We’ve included a list of the most common burrowing pests along with some tips on how to prevent, identify and eradicate them.


**Note**: we don’t treat moles, but have recommendations for self-treatment. For professional treatment of moles and voles and anything larger than a rat, we recommend Critter Control.

  • Prevention: We recommend burying metal mesh hardware cloth. You’ll want to place it 2 feet vertically below ground, with another 6 inches showing above ground. Moles tend to burrow closer to the surface in the Spring when the soil is cool and moist, then they’ll burrow deeper in the Summer to escape the heat. The trick is to take preventative measures before they’re burrowed too deep. Also, they have a hard time burrowing through rocky soil so you can add stones to the perimeter of your lawn as an extra measure.
  • Identification: The easiest way to identify moles have raised ridges (tunnels) and mounds (molehills). The ridges will usually lead to a food or water source, such as a vegetable garden or pond. The molehills will be lumps of raised soil that often resembles a small volcano. Both the ridges and mounds will be easier to identify in the Spring since they won’t be burrowing as deep, so be on the lookout!
  • Eradication: Our #1 recommendation would be to use a castor-oil mixture to repel the moles from your lawn. A series of studies by three Michigan State University researchers found castor oil to be the best defense against moles. You can set traps, but they’re not always effective since moles burrow underground and you’ll have to properly dispose of the remains which are never pleasant…
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**Note**: we don’t treat voles, but have recommendations for self-treatment. For professional treatment of moles and voles and anything larger than a rat, we recommend Critter Control.

  • Prevention: Voles are similar to moles in that they also like to burrow in early Spring. The best way to prevent these little critters is trenching. This simply means digging a shallow trench around your lawn or garden in order to keep voles out. You can also bury screen mesh, a method similar to mole prevention.
  • Identification: Voles are known for leaving “runways” which are trails about two inches in diameter. Their burrows are holes found in your lawn or at the base of trees. Unlike moles, vole holes (say that 5 times fast!) are not volcano-looking mounds of dirt, just a hole.
  • Eradication: The simplest way to get rid of voles is to fill their runways and burrows with soil. If that method doesn’t work, you can also use castor oil, like you would with moles.

Grubs (Beetle Larvae)

  • Prevention: The best way to prevent grubs is to kill them before they hatch. They do the most damage right after they hatch since they enjoy munching on grassroots. We recommend finding preventative grub control products online or at your local gardening store. Always follow label directions when applying pest control substances.
  • Identification: Since these pesky slime balls hatch underground, it’s often hard to tell if you have a grub problem until it’s upon you. One trick to identifying grubs is checking to see if birds, squirrels, and other lawn critters frequent your yard searching for tasty grub morsels. In the unfortunate circumstance that you’re too late to prevent them, you’ll notice big patches of dying brown grass. This is a clear indicator that you have a grub problem and it will only get worse if gone untreated.
  • Eradication: The method of eradication is similar to prevention. You’ll want to buy a grub prevention product and apply it in early Spring. Knowing the grub lifecycle is key to properly eradicate them.


These lawn pests live above ground and munch on blades of grass. These lawn pests are a bit easier to identify but can be just as difficult to eradicate. Here’s a list of the most common munching pests.

Japanese Beetles

  • Prevention: Since Japanese beetles start as larvae (grubs), the best prevention is, again, to kill them before they hatch. Even if you don’t actually see any beetles, it’s still a good idea to take preventative measures. Once a grub/Japanese beetle problem starts, it becomes a vicious cycle.
  • Identification: These guys are one of the easiest pests to identify. Japanese beetles are large, dime-size beetles with a greenish-blue metallic head and copper-colored shell. They love feeding on flowers, fruits, and vegetables, but they’ll settle for lawn grass as well.
  • Eradication: Japanese beetles are one of the most destructive lawn pests. They emerge from the ground in June and attack plants in groups, completely destroying them. The best way to eradicate these pests is to kill both their larvae and adult beetles before they lay more eggs. Reference their lifecycle to find out when it’s best to combat them.


  • Prevention: Just like in the Disney movie “A Bug’s Life”, grasshoppers are the enemy… A natural way to try and prevent grasshoppers or locusts from making your lawn their home is to use a garlic spray. To make this spray at home, you’ll boil a handful of minced garlic in water and then let the mixture sit overnight in the fridge.
  • Identification: Grasshoppers are one of the easiest pests to identify. They’re normally quite large and most of us have grown up trying to catch these little hopping machines. Some species, however, have become masters of camouflage and may be harder to identify. The best time to look for them is when you mow your grass.
  • Eradication: If your garlic spray doesn’t work or you simply can’t stand the smell of garlic, you can dust your lawn with flour. When grasshoppers munch on a flour-covered grass blade, their mouths will gum up and force them to move along in search of a new food source. If all else fails, you can always use an insecticide that specifically targets these pests.

Chinch Bugs

  • Prevention: The most common cause of chinch bug infestations is mismanagement of lawn thatch. If you let lawn thatch build-up and sit for long periods of time in the Spring, it creates the perfect environment for chinch bugs to thrive. To control thatch, rake your lawn frequently or use a verticutter machine to mow thatch from your lawn.
  • Identification: Chinch bugs are more difficult to identify due to their size. They’re much smaller than any of the other munching pests. The key to figuring out if you have a chinch bug problem is if you notice large patches of browning grass that can’t be revived with water. The reason why chinch bugs are so harmful to your lawn is that they suck the moisture from your grass and inject poison into the blades. It may start as a small brown patch, but eventually, it will expand outward as they continue to seek moisture along the perimeter.
  • Eradication: When you’ve come to the conclusion that you have a chinch bug problem, the best way to get rid of them is to use an insect repellent or insecticide.


We recommend giving your lawn a thorough inspection every Spring in order to try and identify if you have a lawn pest problem before it gets out of hand. Our experienced lawn technicians and exterminators have seen and dealt with every type of lawn pest listed above and more! We are more than happy to help you take preventative measures by inspecting your lawn for unwanted pests.

We also provide a granular application that combats insect damage above the soil and grub control below. This application provides season-long control against burrowers and munchers.

Give us a call at 816-444-2847

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