A wooden deck or porch is a wonderful place to relax, gather with friends and family, and just enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, it can also serve as the perfect meal or home for many different insects.

Whether they are looking for lunch or to lay their eggs, there are many wood-seeking insects in Northeastern Pennsylvania. To help protect your deck, your outdoor furniture, and your home, we’re going to take a look at each insect and how you can stop them for good.

Carpenter bees don’t actually consume wood; however, they do like to build nests and lay eggs.

What insects eat wood in Northeastern PA?

There are quite a few insects that are known to eat wood, but it’s not just bugs with an empty belly you have to watch for. Plenty of insects need wood to build their nests, and while they don’t technically consume the wood, they do burrow in and cause serious damage. If you suspect something may be taking a bite out of your deck or wooden fixtures, here are a few insects to look out for.

  • Termites: Of all the wood-eating/burrowing insects, this is the most dangerous. While they may not pose a physical threat, these colonizing pests can cause millions of dollars in damages. Unfortunately, they are also difficult to spot until a bulk of the damage has been done. These insects do eat wood, and the quicker you stop them, the better.
  • Carpenter Ants: Often confused with termites, carpenter ants can also cause some serious structural damage. Unlike termites, these insects don’t eat wood. However, they do build their intricate nests in it. 
  • Powderpost Beetles: These long, little beetles can be hard to spot, at anywhere between ⅛ and ¾ inches long. They also prefer to lay their eggs in living wood. The larvae will then hatch and feed off the wood. They don’t discriminate between soft or hardwood, but it does depend on the species.
  • Wood-boring Beetles: These little beetles can be found chewing tunnels through wood, in both living trees and building material. An invasive species, these beetles are most dangerous in their larvae form, which is the part in the cycle that bores and eats wood. 
  • Carpenter Bees: Carpenter bees don’t actually consume wood; however, they do like to build nests and lay eggs. Solitary insects, these bees seek out dead trees and wood and build tunnels. 
  • Horntail Wasps: Like wood-boring beetles, horntail wasp larvae feeds on wood. They will lay their eggs into the cracks of living trees. Unfortunately, if a tree is processed, horntail wasps can live within the lumber.

 How can I prevent them from eating the wood?

Your tactics for keeping wood-boring and eating insects away can vary based on the species. Most species don’t like dry wood; so, it’s best to keep your decks and outdoor areas dry. Eliminate all moisture possibilities by sanding away possible holes and treating surfaces. If you keep plants or have furniture that can gather water, make sure you cover or remove it during inclement weather.  Sand, varnish, and treat any wooden surfaces regularly. Keep cracks and holes to a minimum. 

If you store or keep firewood, make sure you keep it dry and far from the house. If you have long branches dangling over your deck or house, have them pruned back. Also, remove any dead or dying trees from your yard as they can attract any number of these insects.

Finally, schedule regular inspections to make sure your home is in tip-top shape. When it comes to certain infestations, it can be hard to spot and treat them. Termites can be notoriously difficult to trace without a pest control expert. It’s imperative to schedule yearly inspections and employ preventive actions to keep your home protected.

Sand, varnish, and treat any wooden surfaces regularly.

How can I spot an infestation?

This, again, varies depending on the type of insect you have. Most boring insects will leave a sawdust pile behind. You can also see the evidence in the wood for insects like the carpenter bee, as there will be several holes hollowed out. Infested wood will likely crack and start to squeak or crumble. Also, if knocked on, the wood will make a hollow sound. Pay attention to any small holes or new damage to your deck. 

For termites, you may start to see a maze-like pattern in the beams or wooden furniture. You also might see piles of discarded wings near swarming seasons. Also, check for mud tubes, especially at the base of your deck.

Wood eating and boring insects can not only have a devastating effect on your deck but also on your home. To keep your property protected, it’s best to remain vigilant and perform frequent maintenance on your deck.

Taking a few extra steps to finish and treat your deck can protect you from all manner of infestation. Of course, to keep things safe, you can always schedule yearly inspections with a trusted pest control expert. With proper treatment, your deck can be safe and bug-free all season long.



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