Beetles form the largest of all the insect groups, with about 250,000 known species worldwide. They come in a tremendous range of colours, shapes and sizes. Beetles have colonised most environments and by far the majority cause people no harm, but some of them do serious damage to building structures, stored foods, fabrics and agriculture.
This cylindrical shaped beetle is reddish brown and 4 - 6 mm long. It has punctures on the dorsum in longitudinal rows. The last three segments of the antennae are longer than the others. Food: Wood and reeds. They prefer wood with high moisture content.
Life Cycle: The adult beetles emerge in the spring, mate and begin laying eggs immediately. Females lay 20 to 60 eggs on bare wood surfaces, or inside previous emergence holes in finished wood. The larvae hatch out in 6 - 10 days and immediately tunnel into the wood. The larval stage will last 2 to 10years. Furniture beetles pupate near the surface of the wood and chew their way out to mate This species can be identified by the small, round holes that are left on the surface of the timber (approx. 1.5 - 2mm diameter) and the "gritty" bore-dust that it leaves behind (showing up as lemon-shaped pellets under magnification).
Night swarms usually contain dozens, occasionally hundreds of swarmers that are attracted to lights. They often fly directly into buildings structures and infest timber wood directly with out the need for soil. They typically first infest exposed wood such as window/door frames, trim, eaves, attics, etc.
These places are typical points of entry since access is provided via man-made joints to allow the termite in. Some call the termites "lazy" because of their unwillingness to enter sides of exposed wood. When swarming, they usually re-infest the same structure. Multiple colonies are often found in a structure or single infestation site.
The drywood termite (Coptotermes brevis) is typically distributed through human activity. Infestation to other areas is achieved by transporting infested furniture, picture frames, and wood to new areas. They live in wood that has fairly low moisture content and is not in contact with soil or any other moisture source. They must get their needed moisture from the wood they live in, so they are usually found in humid coastal or subtropical areas. Colonies of these termites are relatively small (fewer than 3,000 individuals), and they increase slowly, requiring several years before any swarmers are produced.
They do not build mud shelter tubes, which are typical of most species of subterranean termites. Their damage is usually localized, but quite a bit of damage can result from multiple colonies in one building or structure.
Crypototermes drywood termites can be successfully eliminated by a variety of methods that would not be effective against subterranean species. Heating, freezing, microwaves, or high-voltage electric charges on or into all or a portion of the infested structure, or wooden objects, can kill off whole colonies.
Drywood termites live in the wood where they feed. Termites digest cellulose in the wood. Colonies construct nests in the wood itself and they do not require soil-to-wood contact.
Typically, drywood termite colonies are smaller and slower to develop than those of either dampwood or subterranean termites.
Drywood termites construct large galleries, both across and with the wood grain and undermine the stability of timber, causing limbs or entire trees to fall or to become weakened.
The Old House Borer is one of the most common from this family, with its larvae hollowing out galleries in seasoned softwood (pine). It is found in older buildings, but is more frequent in newer buildings, (in houses less than 10 years old).
The adults are brownish-black to black, slightly flattened and about 3-4mm long. The life cycle of the old house borer ranges between three to twelve years. Because this beetle has a very long life cycle and can make re infestations of the same piece of wood, it may be many years before serious structural damage is recognized. The exit holes of emerging adults do not occur in very large numbers until the infestation has been established for several years. Adults fly in summer from November This, along with the fact that larvae will do extensive feeding without breaking through the surface of the wood; make it necessary to inspect infested wood very carefully to detect old house borer damage. Rough wood being examined should be probed or struck to detect weakness or the presence of boring dust. If exit holes are present, they will be broadly oval and about 5mm x 8mm.
The life cycle of the old house borer ranges between three to twelve years, but can be last longer if conditions are favourable. Because of the long life cycle, re infesting the wood it may take years before you see any structural damage.
Subterranean termites are highly destructive to common building timbers. Subterranean termites rapidly eat out the internal sections of structural timbers - devouring mainly the spring wood, and preferring to leave the harder summer wood sections.
Leaving you a thin honey-comb shell, packed with a composite of partly digested timber and soil extrect. If this soil timber composite is moist, chances are you'll also find live termites close by. Subterranean termites prefer a moist dark damp environment - it is essential for their survival - discussed in detail later on.
Termite swarmers (or reproductives) are commonly seen when they swarm during daylight; they have eyes; are poor fliers but are swept along by the wind; they land, drop their wings, find a mate to become king and queen of a new termite colony. Subterranean termite swarmers are about 1cm (including wings) with a dark brown body and a small fontanelle (frontal gland pore) on its head. Their wings are brownish grey with two dark solid veins along the forefront of the front wings. The front wing is distinctly larger than hind wing.
Subterranean termites swarm in large numbers over a wide area to find a mate from another colony nest to start up a new colony. A suitable location for nesting should provide moisture and a readily available timber food source close by. Colony nest development is slow in the first few months, with the egg-laying capacity of the new queen termite peaking after a few years. The swarmers are emitted in their thousands when a mature termite nest is large and well established. Swarmers are usually produced after this period and are an indication a large termite nest is in the vicinity, a sure danger sign and a warning that professional protection is required.
The colony nests of subterranean termites are usually located in the ground below the frost line, but above the water table. Mud galleries or "shelter tubes" are constructed across hard objects in order to gain access to timber food sources.
Subterranean termites constantly search for new food sources. They are known to enter buildings through cracks in concrete flooring or to travel under parquetry or tile flooring through gaps of less than 1½mm wide.
Where moisture regularly collects inside the wall or other cavities of a building, say from faulty plumbing or broken roof tiles, the Western subterranean termite can develop a subsidiary colony nest which may not require contact with the ground to ensure it's survival.
They build a central colony nest from which they construct underground tunnels that radiate within a 100 yard radius from a central colony nest in search of a timber (cellulose) food source