To see what could be hiding in your Home
The wharf borer beetle. Wharf borers are present in all the states of the USA except for Florida. It takes about a year to develop from an egg to an adult. The insect is called the 'wharf borer' because the larval stage of this insect is often found on pilings and timbers of wharves, especially along coastal areas. The adult beetles can be identified via a black band across the end of both elytra, or wing covers. In addition, wharf borers can be distinguished from other members of the family via the presence of a single spur on the tibia of the forelegs, and the distance between both eyes (twice the length of one eye). Eggs are oviposited on rotten wood where larvae hatch and burrow to feed on rotten wood. Adults do not feed and depend on stored energy reserves accumulated during the larval stage. They are considered to be a pest because they damage wood used in building infrastructures.
Bark beetles are so-named because the best known species reproduce in the inner bark (living and dead phloem tissues) of trees. Some species, such as the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), attack and kill live trees. Most, however, live in dead, weakened, or dying hosts. Bark beetles are ecologically and economically significant. Outbreak species help to renew the forest by killing older trees. Other species aid in the decomposition of dead wood. However, several outbreak-prone species are known as notorious pests.
Bark beetles often attack trees that are already weakened by disease, drought, smog, conspecific beetles or physical damage. Healthy trees may put up defenses by producing resin or latex, which may contain a number of insecticidal and fungicidal compounds that can kill or injure attacking insects, or simply immobilize and suffocate them with the sticky fluid. Under outbreak conditions, the sheer number of beetles can, however, overwhelm the tree's defenses, and the results can be disastrous for the lumber industry
A typical adult horntail is brown, blue, or black with yellow parts, and may often reach up to 2 inches long. The pigeon horntail (Tremex columba) can grow to almost 2 inches long (not counting the ovipositor), among the longest of all Hymenoptera.
Female horntails lay their eggs in trees. The larvae bore into the wood and live in the tree for up to two years, possibly more. They typically migrate to just under the bark before pupation.
The spiral groove on the ovipositor is visible on the photograph but not easily to the naked eye.
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