Insects and Homes

Steven Burnett of Journey Property Inspections give some great information on insects.

With summer in full swing, we are once again noticing insects of all kinds in and around our homes.  Most of the insects around your home are nuances that do us no harm. But let’s just review a few.

Mosquitoes and spiders are the most common ones we see.  The first can be a health hazard to you and your pets so it is good to spray for them every year and wear repellent when outside.  Particularly pay attention to standing water and small yard ponds.  These are good breeding areas for mosquitoes.
In this area of the country, most spiders pose no health hazard other than the brown recluse spider.  These have a rather nasty bite and should be avoided.

The bites are usually more dangerous in kids, young adults and ‘third age’  (i.e. elderly) people. At first, the bite appears and the area is swollen all around the bite. This area expands, changes to red and the skin appears to harden. The victim shows other symptoms such as fever, shivering, nausea and vomiting. Eventually, the injury grows to an ulcer.

Bees and wasps are also nasty, particularly if you are allergic to them. So is best to keep hives and nests cleared out.

As far a home goes, there are four insects in our area that can cause significant damage to a home.  These “Wood Destroying Organisms” (or WDOs) are carpenter ants, termites, powder post beetles, and boring bees.

Carpenter ants are big and black.  They do not eat wood, but rather chew at it and haul it away.  Carpenter ants do most of their damage to the exterior of your home or at the foundation.  If you see them, look for little piles of saw dust. A professional can spray around your foundation for these pests.

from St. Louis Pest Control Blog

Termites are rare in this area; however, Adrian has seen several cases within the last couple of years. Termites eat and ingest wood so a termite trail is actually termite poo. They leave what looks like little mud tunnels behind (see photo). Termites need to eliminated, but it takes a long time for them to do damage. A colony of about 60,000 termites would take about a year to eat a 1’ section of 2×4. Once you see them, though don’t waste time. Call an exterminator.




Powder Post Beetles are the most common wood insect in this area. They are generally seen in older homes because these are carried into the home with fire wood or coal. They leave little tiny holes in floor joists and beams and sometimes you will see a powdery substance around the holes. The damage they cause can sometimes be mistaken for wood rot (wood rot is damage caused by long term exposure to moisture).


Lastly are Wood Boring Bees. They leave an almost perfect 3/8” diameter hole in wood soffits or trim. After they have bored their hole, they lay their eggs. Once the larve hatch, woodpeckers and other birds make the holes larger trying to get at the insects.


Unfortunately with wood destroying insects, it is what you DON’T see that is more of a problem than what you DO see. When doing an inspection, if I see even slight signs of WDO’s, I call the exterminators. I call it peace of mind!

So a quick lesson in insects that can harm you or your house.  If you think you have a problem, call an exterminator,  particularly with brown recluse spiders or bees and wasps.  Believe it or not, a visit from the exterminator can be a lot less expensive than a visit to the emergency room. Have a fun summer!

By Steven Burnett

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