To see what could be hiding in your Home
Old House Borer Beetle
The old-house borer, or house longhorn beetle is the only beetle that re-infests the same wood that it emerged from. Contrary to its name, it is more often found in new houses; this is in part because new home construction may use wood infected with the beetle's eggs if the wood is not properly kiln-dried in production but is mostly due to the beetles need for the higher resin content found in wood less than 10 years old. Originating in Europe, the old-house borer now has a worldwide distribution, including the Mediterranean, South Africa, Asia, USA and Canada. Recently it has been found in Perth, Australia. In Australia, it is known as the European House Borer.
Old-house borers prefer new softwoods, and particularly pine. Only the larvae feed on the wood. Larvae take up to thirty years to mature, depending on the moisture content of th e wood and environmental conditions but typically mature in three to fifteen years, damaging the wood in the interim. Larvae usually mature in mid to late summer (July–August in the northern hemisphere), and the mature adults then cut large oval shaped exit holes 6–10 mm (¼ to 3/8 in) in diameter to exit the wood, leaving course powdery frass around the vicinity of the hole. Adults are most active in the summer. They are black or brown with grayish "hair" on their upper bodies and wing cases. They have shiny spots that resemble eyes
Ambrosia beetles live in nutritional symbiosis with ambrosia fungi and probably with bacteria. The beetles excavate tunnels in dead trees in which they cultivate fungal gardens, their sole source of nutrition. After landing on a suitable tree, an ambrosia beetle excavates a tunnel in which it releases spores of its fungal symbiont. The fungus penetrates the plant's xylem tissue, digests it, and concentrates the nutrients on and near the surface of the beetle gallery. The majority of ambrosia beetles colonize xylem (sapwood and/or heartwood) of dying or recently dead trees. Species differ in their preference for different parts of trees, different stages of deterioration, in the shape of their tunnels (“galleries”).
When dealing with bio-growth in your home it is of the utmost importance to be sure to test the fungus to determine if you have mold or a wood destroying fungus. While both are serious threats, wood destroying fungus can actually jeopardize the structural soundness of your home. Wood destroying fungi causes more damage to structures than all the fires, floods, and termites combined!
Wood decaying fungus requires four fundamentals to survive which are oxygen, favorable temperatures, water, and food. However, since fungus is a plant that lack chlorophyll, it is unable to make its own food and so it feeds off of cells in the wood. The fungus secretes enzymes that break down the wood into usable food. Fungi will significantly reduce the strength of the wood, if untreated for a long period of time.
Once you have determined whether your home is suffering from a case of mold or a wood destroying fungus you can then proceed to treat. If you do find out that it is simply mold, you are not out of the woods yet. It must be treated immediately as the presence of mold indicates moisture levels sufficient enough for the growth of a wood destroying fungus.
There are different types of wood destroying fungus, each with identifying characteristics.
• White rot – breaks down all major wood components and commonly causes rotted wood to feel moist, soft and spongy, or stringy and to appear white bleached.
• Brown rot – leaves a brown residue of lignin and the affected wood is usually dry and fragile, and readily crumbles into cubes. Brown rot is generally more serious than white rot.
• Soft rot – typically occurs in wood of high water content and high nitrogen content. Soft rot fungi look like brown rot. They are most commonly found in rotting window frames, wet floor boards and fence posts, etc