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By Abigail McLain /

Termites are not the only wood-destroying insects in Nashville. Unfortunately, there are several others. For example, wood-infesting or wood-boring beetles function in nature to help reduce wood to a form that can be utilized as plant food. However, those attacking pre-seasoned or seasoning wood, but especially those which attack seasoned wood, can be very destructive to wood that humans either use or intend to use in their structures and/or as furnishings. Of the more than 30,000 U.S. species placed in about 112 families, about 12 families represented by probably less than 100 species are commonly encountered as pests of wood found in structures and/or their furnishings.

Because adults and/or larvae of wood-infesting beetles are not often encountered, diagnosis of the cause of the problem is usually based on the evidence left behind. One must use all of the evidence available because rarely will one characteristic, such as exit hole size, be conclusive. Therefore, the identification/conclusion will be based on the following evidence (in addition to adults and/or larvae, if present):

  1. Type of wood damaged: softwood (evergreens/conifers) or hardwood (deciduous/broad-leaf trees; all others).
  2. Age of the wood: new (10 years or less) or old (over 10 years).
  3. Type of product being damaged: structural/dimension lumber (at least 2×4"/4.9×9.8 cm), lumber/boards (1"/25 mm thick or less), or manufactured products (millwork, flooring, furniture).
  4. Exit holes: size and shape. 
  5. Frass: texture and how packed in tunnels/galleries.
  6. Wood moisture content; moisture meter required. The acronym TOW-A-TOP is sometimes used for numbers 1, 2, and 3, with TOW meaning type of wood, A is for age, and TOP meaning type of product.

It is necessary to be able to determine at least which family of beetles is involved. In some cases, such as with the old house borer, species identification is required. So if you think you might have some type of wood-infesting beetle invading your home, call your friends at Nashville Pest Control, 615-622-2584. We will help you identify and recommend the best treatment options.