The risk from wood-destroying insects attacking homes on Long Island and the 5 boroughs of New York City is high. Why?
The answer is simple; termites, carpenter ants and carpenter bees are established in the 5 boroughs and on Long Island. It’s only a matter of time before your home becomes a victim of these wood-destroying pests.
Any structure made of wood and sitting on the ground on Long Island or in the 5 boroughs of New York City, is potentially at risk of attack by wood-destroying insects such as termites, carpenter ants and carpenter bees. Each of these pests have their own special way of causing damage to wooden structures.
Termites cause structural damage by actually eating the wood. They are one of the few animals on the planet that can actually get nourishment from wood.
Since termites eat wood, they have a bad reputation with most homeowners. In fact, in nature, termites are beneficial. They recycle fallen trees, decaying stumps, and even dead grass.
Termites get their nutrition from cellulose. Cellulose is the substance that wood and grass are made of. It is the most abundant substance on the planet.
There are dozens of different species of termites in the USA. Here in the northeast, the Subterranean termite is the most common. They live underground feeding on buried trees and other cellulose-containing materials like paper and cardboard.
In this area of the US, there is a substantial risk of your home sustaining an attack by termites.
Ants are found all over the planet. Researchers Bert Holldobler and Edward O. Wilson wrote a book called “The Ants,” in which they estimate that there are over 10 quadrillion ants on the planet. Scientists surmise that ants comprise 15 to 25 percent of the earth’s animal biomass. There are 12,762 known species of ants, and the estimated number of total ant species is more than 22,000!
What is the risk of your home being attacked by carpenter ants? Firstly, risk can be managed if you understand the behavior of these wood-destroying pests. You also need to know what conditions will increase the risk of attack.
Carpenter ants construct galleries inside moist wood. These galleries serve as nesting sites where eggs are deposited by the queen and are cared for by worker ants. Carpenter ants do not consume wood. They rip-out pieces of wood to construct galleries. The wood is excavated and deposited outside the galleries. It looks like coarse sawdust.
If your home is in a wooded area, you are at a greater risk of attack. These ants typically nest in fallen trees and tree stumps. However, they will travel hundreds of feet to forage for food and new nesting sites. It is during this foraging that your home may be intercepted. If conditions are acceptable, carpenter ants may decide to move into the structure and become established.
In the late-spring and early summer, homeowners often notice large, black bees hovering around the outside of their homes. These are probably carpenter bees searching for mates and favorable sites to construct their nests.
Male carpenter bees are quite aggressive, often hovering in front of people who are around the nests. The males are quite harmless, however, since they lack stingers. Female carpenter bees can inflict a painful sting but seldom will unless they are handled or molested.
Carpenter bees tunnel into wood to lay their eggs. After mating, the fertilized females excavate tunnels in wood and lay their eggs within a series of small cells. Bare, unpainted or weathered softwoods are preferred, especially redwood, cedar, cypress and pine. Painted or pressure-treated wood is much less susceptible to attack. Common nesting sites include eaves, window trim, fascia boards, siding, wooden shakes, decks and outdoor furniture.
The entrance hole and tunnels are perfectly round and about the diameter of your finger. Coarse sawdust the color of fresh cut wood will often be present beneath the entry hole, and burrowing sounds may be heard from within the wood. The cells are provisioned with a ball of pollen on which the larvae feed, emerging as adults in late summer.
Female carpenter bees may excavate new tunnels for egg laying or enlarge and reuse old ones. The extent of damage to wood which has been utilized for nesting year after year may be considerable.
Homes with untreated and/or unpainted exposed soft wood are at risk of attack.
Mike Deutsch MS, BCE
Arrow Exterminating Company, Inc.
Lynbrook, NY 11563