The Various Sorts of Damage to Timber

damage to timberThere is damage caused by Borers, Termites (both subterranean Drywood and Dampwood), decay and insects that feed on decayed timber such as carpenter ants and decay moth. And in some cases, Defibration where a chemical reaction takes place breaking down Lignin which is the material that binds fibres in timber together, basically it’s glue. Also, there are fungi which destroy timber.

Throughout Australia, various types of borers do damage to timbers in use in dwellings and commercial buildings in Australia. Borers are also found in furniture stored in homes and offices. As pest controllers in Queensland, we are called upon to identify a number of these annually. Powderpost Beetle, Furniture Beetle, Pinhole Beetle and in Queensland a beetle called Calymmaderus incisus or the Queensland Pine beetle. And to a lesser degree in the southern parts of Australia The European House Borer.

In Queensland, Defence Pest Management is most often called upon to treat a number of termite species. The most damaging species of termites in Australia, mainly because they are found throughout the Australian mainland and interior is Coptotermes spp.

In south-east Queensland, this species was the most commonly treated when I first started pest control.  Now 30 years later the species Schedorhinotermes spp appear to be the most commonly located and treated by Defence Pest Management.

As well as the above we do see Heterotermes spp. and another species Microcerotermes spp. Though these species sometimes are located inside homes, they are more generally found in retaining walls sleepers and fencing. Lastly but not least the nest builder Nasutitermes spp.

In the dryer more, tropical parts of Queensland there is a species of termites called Mastotermes sp.

A little harder to locate are drywood species of termites this species of termites attack both furniture and timber in use. Commonly called the West Indian Drywood Termite when I started in pest control I was told they were initially imported into Australia from Southeast Asia in furniture. Treatment is by fumigation. Some of the older residents of Brisbane may remember the old museum being fumigated. It has been suggested that the West Indian Drywood termite is the most damaging termite in the world. There is a local species Cryptotermes primus they are a true Drywood species and do cause damage to Timber in use.

Dampwood termites are of no significance

Decay moth and carpenter ant damage are sometimes confused with termite damage. This is why the importance of a trained Timber Pest Specialist is invaluable as these pests do not typically require treatment. The carpenter ant remove the decaying wood, and this sometimes may appear as termite damage. Similarly, with the Decay Moth.

Treatments

Treatment of pinhole borer is considered unnecessary as they do not reinfest. The Powder Post Beetle may require treatment. The type of treatment will depend entirely upon the circumstances of the timber, and where it is used, the age of the wood as these beetles normally attack timber in use within the first 12 months. Again, an experienced pest controller will be able to guide the homeowner in the best manner of control. Lastly, the Furniture Beetle will require treatment, this could range from injecting insecticide into the borer holes right through to fumigation, again depended upon the size and location of the infestation in the timber.

Subterranean Termite Treatments

If damage is located in timber caused by subterranean termites, treatment will need to be undertaken. The extent of the treatment and type of treatment will depend entirely upon the species of termites the location of the activity and the degree of infestation.

When a termite nest is located treatment of the nest will destroy the entire colony, you may need to monitor areas where infestation was located to ensure all termite activity has ceased. Where a termite nest has not been located all areas of activity are treated remotely to destroy the colony. This may involve baiting, foaming (with an approved insecticide), introducing insecticidal dust directly into the termite workings. Lastly where the species are termites, and the degree in their station dictate a significant and permanent termite treated zone. Treated Zones are employed around homes and commercial buildings and have a life of up to 10 years.

Drywood Termite Treatments

The West Indian Drywood Termite will require fumigation to ensure complete control. Ongoing inspections will be required to ensure no surviving colonies. In the case of Cryptotermes primus, localized treatments are usually sufficient.

It would be my advice that you call a company like Defence Pest Management who have had the training and the expertise to identify the type of damage, determine the insects causing the problem and make recommendations for treatments if required.

All my technicians are fully trained and licensed, and the company is registered with the QBCC: with professional indemnity insurance. Defence Pest Management uses the most modern equipment, for example, Termatrac, briefly Termatrac is a microwave device that picks up movement inside walls combine this movement with high moisture and damage, and you have an elevated chance of having active termites. We also use moisture meters which are very useful in the location of termites and moisture problems that may lead to termites. Also, these moisture meters will indicate areas at high risk of decay. Lastly, we have thermal cameras – these are exciting tools that pick up subtle variations in temperature inside walls that can be caused by many different reasons. But when you look at them from the viewpoint of results, from test tapping timbers, using a moisture meter, indications from a Termatrac, it is possible to locate bivouac areas (small sub colonies) or even main colonies inside walls. The thermal camera is excellent at detecting water leaks. The inspector test taps available timbers the resonance of the tapped timbers are a good indication of termite infestation though not necessarily one that is active at the time of the inspection.

Our advice is that you undertake an annual termite inspection or if you find unexplained damage to Timber get professional advice from a qualified and experienced Timber pest specialist.