Saturday, May 7, 2016

Carpenter Bees And The Damage They Cause

Termites and carpenter ants are the most destructive insects of wood in structures found in the United States. Yet another insect that must be addressed are Carpenter Bees. Although not as destructive as termites, or carpenter ants, carpenter bees can do their fair share of damage to the exterior of structures. During the summer months, Home Inspectors and Pest Control Professionals (PCP) will be attentive to the damage that results from an infestation of carpenter bees.

                                                                    Characteristics of Carpenter Bees

                                                                                   Carpenter Bee
Carpenter bees Closely resemble bumble bees in that they both have a stocky or robust build. The major difference in their physical characteristic is that the top surface of the abdomen of the carpenter bee is bare black and shiny, whereas the bumble bee has many body hairs and appears fuzzy. Carpenter bees have a dense area of hairs on the hind legs, bumble bees however have dense yellow hairs on the abdomen and large pollen baskets on the hind legs.

                                                                           Structural Damage

                                                                               Carpenter Bee Damage
Carpenter bees do not eat wood, but the females bore circular holes, about 1/2 inch wide at a right angle for about an inch deep into the wood they infest. They begin to excavate galleries in the direction of the wood grain for about 4-6 inches and this is where they make their nest. They can nest in all species of dried seasoned wood, but they prefer softwood like cedar, redwood, cypress, pine, and fir. They will bore in wooden members on houses such as eves constructed with pine and on decks, fences and dead tree limbs.  It's these areas that home inspectors and pest control professionals will take a closer look to determine if any activity exist. Carpenter bees are known to return to the same wood year after year to drill nests and lay eggs. If left untreated the wooden members can weaken resulting in costly repairs.

How can you determine if carpenter bees are nesting in structural wood on your property? If you see a number of bees hovering around the eves for an example, they're protecting the entrance to a gallery and will chase away any intruders, including humans. The males do not sting, however who wants to wait around to determine males from females? If you suspect you have carpenter bees, call a pest control operator. Many have found closing the holes with corks helpful. Painting the wood will not protect it from carpenter bees, but it is helpful since they prefer bare, exposed wood. Some pest control professionals as a last resort use a pesticide in the form of dust that's applied inside the galleries that acts as a residual and is effective in the control of carpenter bees.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Preventing Wooden Decks & Porches from Termite Infestation

  Wooden decks and porches if not properly cared for can be an all day breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet. Termites, the most destructive insect of wooden structures are opportunist with an unending appetite . They are masters of taking advantage of a neglected home. So how can home owners keep their outside recreational areas free from termite infestation? Well, there are three key ways.

First, it's important to give a visual inspection of all accessible components of your deck and/or porch. The illustration above gives the names and shows the areas of the components you should inspect. The posts, beams, joist and face-boards are the areas you want to especially examine because they are closest to the ground where subterranean termites emerge from. In these areas look for mud-tubes that termites construct to travel back and forth from their nest in the ground to the wooden members. Have with you an instrument with a pointed edge, like a knife, screwdriver, or ice pick. Gently but firmly probe areas of the wood. If the instrument goes through, likely there's termite damage. If you see a lot of cream colored insects, about 1/8 to 3/8's of an inch in length you have termites.

Check for loose rails, steps and balusters as well as columns. Probe them too because the outside of the wood may look fine, but could be hollow inside. If the wood is sound, then tighten them with nails, screws or bolts. Check the decking for damage such as splinting and loose deck boards. Walk across the deck to determine if any areas are weak or sinking. If possible check underneath the deck or porch, especially the undersides of all joist, beams and decking.

Second, make sure that you have good drainage. If you don't have a deck or porch cover make sure the deck boards are spaced so that rain water will not accumulate on the deck. The grounds around the house should be sloped so that water drains away from the house, not towards it. Post should be mounted on piers, not in the dirt or ground. Wooden steps should rest not on dirt, but upon a concrete base or apron that extends at least 6 inches above grade. Paint or stain all wooden members, including the undersides and cut edges.

Finally remove any wood debris from under and around the house and deck. Scrape wood, tree stumps, mulch, boxes and branches all attract termites to your home.
A visual inspection is the beginning of protecting your home from termite infestation.

 If you think you have a termite infestation on your porch or deck, call a pest control professional for an inspection and treatment options.

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