With over 300 termite and pest species in Australia, no one is safe and it is important to be able to spot a pest and identify the damage they cause. Through our work at Specialist Termite Control, we’ve encountered so many different species and can identify them by what damage they cause, and the appropriate actions required to treat them. Here are some common pests and how to identify them and their damage.
Lyctus brunneus (powder post beetle)
This is a common borer of hardwoods frequently found in the framing timbers of buildings in Victoria. Damage to scantling is typically along edges and sides where it can appear to be severe. However, the heartwood majority of properly graded service timber is resistant to this borer and usually maintains the structural integrity of the timber. You can confirm your I.D. with the finger rub test. Clean, blond and smooth like ‘talc’ indicates this to be Lyctus borer. If in doubt; send us in a photo close up of the damage.
No action is normally required for these borers in framing timbers. However, if the damage is to finished timbers such as a polished hardwood floor boards, then replacement of the individual board with properly graded timber is the normal remedy.
Annobium punctatum (furniture beetle)
This borer infests softwoods such a Baltic pine and prefers older timber over new. The characteristic squiggles and dots in Baltic pine flooring are familiar to residents of many older homes, who mostly just live with it. This borer is however slowly progressive and failure of individual boards due to a piano or table leg pressure is common, and individual board replacement is a usual result. This borer has frass that is coarse like salt, which you can confirm with your finger rub test. If in doubt, send in a photo close up of damage.
Chemical treatment can be partly effective, but needs to access both sides of the timber without varnish or paint. This is often not possible. However, it may be the best solution if a major infestation is rapidly increasing. More commonly, local replacement with new (more resistant) timber is the preferred response. If portable items such as furniture are infested, these can be taken to the fumigators at the docks. An artisan’s remedy of wrapping in black plastic and leaving in full sun for 3 days is believed to be effective.
Termites cause serious damage to buildings and need to be identified and ‘managed’ by a specialist. If you believe that you may have found evidence of termites in or near a building, you should not rely on web site advice. You should instead request an assessment by a specialist immediately. It may be helpful to take a close up photo with your phone and send it to us via this web site. We will respond to you quickly during business hours. This may help reduce ‘false alarms’.
Some questions need to be answered in managing the termite risk.
- Are termites still active and damaging my building or could the damage be from an old infestation.?
- Even if termites are not active today, what is protecting the building from more termites in the future?
These questions need to be answered by an experienced termite specialist.
- Do not break touch or break open any suspect damage.
- Do not spray chemicals or fly spray.
- You should request a termite inspection to AS 3660.2 and written report, including a termite management plan if necessary. This company provides this service. Note- where it is unclear if termite damage is active or not, an inspection (that you pay for) is recommended over our free termite assessment
Fungal decay is commonly known as rot. The causes of decay vary greatly, as does the visual appearance of such decay, and the result is that decay is often confused with other timber pests.
Brown rot is caused by chronic moisture and may show ‘cubic cracking’. White (stringy) rot often affects timbers such as window sills that are exposed to drenching rainfall. Often decay has a combination of these and other fungi.
Rotting timber provides a perfect damp environment for termites and other small bugs to live in. As a result, rotted timber is often honeycombed with little insect holes and galleries which can resemble termite or borer damage. If the timber is broken open, a great many insects such as black ants may come pouring out. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between possible causes of such damage. Despite these variations- one law of nature always seems to apply- the cause of fungal decay is moisture and if moisture is controlled the rotting will stop. Unfortunately, fungal decay under a floor is often associated with poor ventilation and mould growth. This may have implications on a building’s living environment. If the decay has attracted a termite infestation, then specialist advice should be taken.
- Local decay issues can often be managed by sending a photo to us. Timber replacement and weather flashings are a common remedy.
- More serious would be a problem with widespread decay under the floor of a building caused by poor ventilation. If this is suspected, you should certainly engage our specialist to do a thorough termite inspection. This will include advice about any major decay issues under the floor.
If you’re unsure or concerned about any termite or pest damage found in your home, contact us at Specialist Termite Control on 1300 695 949 for a free assessment, we also offer termite inspections and treatments.