Which Are the Most Damaging Wood-Destroying Insects?

Wood-destroying insects are every homeowner’s worst fear. The structural damage caused by termites, carpenter ants and wood-boring beetles is often widespread and can undermine both the value and safety of your home. These wood-boring bugs often go unnoticed as they chew their way through the beams and joists that support your house, which is why infestations of these bugs often have such devastating consequences.

To keep your home free of wood-destroying bugs, first, you must know what you are looking for! So, what are the main types of wood-boring insects to look out for, and how can you keep them out of your home?

What are wood-boring insects?

Wood-boring bugs do exactly as their name suggests; they chew and feed on wooden structures, often causing significant damage in the process. Some insects, such as powder post beetles and carpenter ants, bore into wood to create tunnels where they make nests and lay eggs. Although they don’t actually eat the wood they inhabit, they can cause widespread structural damage to your home if an infestation takes hold.

Other species, like termites, are wood-eating insects.


These bugs feed voraciously on the cellulose (plant fibers) in wood and can cause devastating damage to the beams and joists that support your home.

Wood-eating bugs like termites can go unnoticed for long periods of time, so the extent of the damage caused by these wood-destroying bugs is often severe.

Which wood-destroying insects can do the most damage to your home?


Termites are by far the worst of the wood-destroying insects and are responsible for causing billions of dollars’ worth of structural damage every year. They’re the number one wood-eating pest to look out for around your home; read on to find out how to recognize and repel them!

What are they?

Termites are common throughout North America and, as such, are one of the most prevalent wood-destroying insects around. They find their way into your home via wooden structures that come into contact the soil outside. Once they find a suitable piece of wood, they get to work munching away at it, feeding on the plant fibers and slowly hollowing it out.

Termite damage is especially devastating because it frequently takes homeowners a long time to notice they have an infestation. This gives the termites ample time to destroy large sections of the support beams around your home, which can be eye-wateringly expensive to put right.

How can you prevent a termite infestation?

Termites are big fans of a warm, humid environment, and often invade crawlspaces as a result. You can, therefore, make your home less appealing to them by eliminating moisture sources and improving ventilation. If you live in a humid area, setting up a dehumidifier in your crawlspace can also help to prevent termites from moving in.

Another way to stop termites getting in is to create a barrier around your house, so they can’t access the wood of your property from the soil. One way to do this is by applying a chemical treatment to the soil immediately outside your home, as this will stop them from getting too close to the house.

Powder post beetles

Powder post beetles are another insect species that chew and destroy any piece of wood they infest. There are several different species of this particular wood-boring bug, but all should be unwelcome in your home!

What are they?

Powder post beetles are so named because of their tendency to transform wooden beams to a very fine powder. This damage is caused by the feeding of the larvae, which bore tunnels into the wood and severely undermine its strength in the process.

These bugs are easily recognized by the telltale piles of powder they leave in their wake, and by the small, round holes they leave in the surface of the wood.

How can you prevent a powder post beetle infestation?

Powder post beetles usually get into your house by stowing away in infested wood, then emerging once you take them indoors. You can prevent an infestation by carefully inspecting all newly-purchased wood before you bring it home, and only buying wood that has been properly heat-treated and air-dried to remove moisture and kill pests.

Like termites, these bugs are drawn to moisture, so keeping your crawlspace as dry as possible can also deter them.

Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants flourish in the springtime and commonly invade homes throughout the states. These large, black ants are another wood-boring insect to watch out for, so how can you recognize them?

What are they?

Carpenter ants are big, black ants that damage wood by hollowing it out to make space for their nests. When they do this, there is often no visible sign of damage, meaning they can establish large infestations before they are detected. This gives them plenty of opportunities to destroy the structural integrity of your home before you even know they’re there.

If a swarm of winged carpenter ants appears inside your house, it’s bad news as this is a sure sign there’s a colony nearby.

How can you prevent a carpenter ant infestation?

These wood-boring ants often enter your home via tree branches and other plant limbs that come into contact with your house. These create a bridge that allows them to march right onto your property, where they can get to work building their nests in the woodwork.

Stop carpenter ants from entering your home by keeping trees and shrubs around your property pruned, making sure none of the foliage is making direct contact with your house.


Wood-destroying insects can spell disaster for the structural security of your home. Termites, carpenter ants and powder post beetles can all destroy wooden beams and joists as they hollow them out for their nests or food. If left untreated, infestations of these wood-boring insects can lead to extensive (and costly) damage to your property and can seriously undermine the value of your house.

The best way to prevent damage to your home by wood-destroying bugs is to take preventative measures against infestations. Keep moisture to a minimum, prune trees and shrubs around your land and consider setting up a soil barrier to keep your home pest-free.

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