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Stay Ahead of Wood-Destroying Pests

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Whether interior or exterior, well-built, properly-maintained woodwork can last for centuries but if wood-boring pests like beetles, termites, and carpenter ants find their way into the wood, they can wreak all kinds of havoc.

According to Scott Gosney, the owner of Advanced Pest Control in West Palm Beach, “There are several types of wood destroying pests, like subterranean termites – and there are several species of them in South Florida and throughout the Sunshine State. The most damaging and destructive is a species called the Formosan termite. There are also drywood termites, which are a completely different species, which live in the material they are eating, rather than in the ground. There are also powderpost beetles and powderpost termites, plus quite a few more – but, they’re much rarer.”

Insects in your home

According to Michael Bentley, Ph.D, staff entomologist for the Virginia-based National Pest management Association (NPMA), “Termites and wood-destroying beetles are the most economically important wood-destroying pests that infest homes (including co-ops and condos) in the U.S.” Of the two, it’s termites that are the most problematic and economically important – and the pests are found in every state in the union but Alaska.

Tips for you

Bentley encourages boards, managers and residents alike to take a few simple steps to eliminate conditions that are make a property attractive to wood-destroying insects. Here are the best ways to prevent a termite infestation:

  • Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well-ventilated and dry.
  • Repair leaking faucets, water pipes and A/C units on the outside of the home or building.
  • Replace weather stripping and repair loose mortar around basement foundations and windows
  • Direct water away from your home or building through properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.

“Termites are highly attracted to moisture, so any possible moisture sources such as leaky pipes, improperly sealed windows and doors, and poor exterior drainage should be corrected immediately,” Bentley says. “Additionally, preventing and structural lumber from making contact with soil is another effective way to prevent termites from feasting on your home.”

It is more difficult to prevent wood-destroying beetles from infesting structural lumber. However, an effective strategy for deterring both termites and wood-destroying beetles is keeping firewood or other cellulose (yard waste, branches, tree stumps) off of the ground and stored away from the building.

Environmentally-Friendly Products

Unlike decades ago, the modern options available to pest professionals for managing wood- damaging insects troubling your co-op or condo are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meaning they have been tested and are considered safe for people, pets, and the environment.

There has also been a new option: killing termites with heat..

According to Gosney, “Depending on the circumstances, and we’ve done quite a number of these in condos, we can get rid of drywood termites inside of cabinetries and walls using heat.  There’s no fumigation involved it’s just heat that penetrates the wood and kills the termites. The wood itself has to reach only 120 degrees, but it has to reach that temperature all the way through the wood.  So, we have to generate temperatures of 140 degrees and up to get it to that temperature.”

“We use heaters of all sorts to do this,” he continues. “We have, probably, half a million dollars’ worth of equipment that we can use to heat anything from an entire building to a kitchen.”

Regardless of whether they’re just a nuisance (like kitchen ants) or a potentially-costly threat (like termites), nobody wants any kind of bugs in their building. By staying on top of the pests in your building, and removing as many of the risk-factors as possible from your property, you can win in the game against critters.

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