While it’s common practice to use lumber for fencing that has been pressure treated in the factory, it’s a good idea to know which pests attack wood so you can watch out for them and take action if necessary.
Some pests to watch out for with a wood fence are more commonly found in forest areas, though many are insects that will attack wood in houses as well. The most common part of a fence that will be likely to be attacked by any sort of pest is the post, though rails may also be targeted.
If you have a wood fence, some of the pests you should watch out for include:
- Carpenter ants
- Various destructive beetle species and wood borer
- Carpenter bees
- Horntail wasps
Very big reddish-black or black ants that create nests above ground in solid material including structural softwood, carpenter ants constantly expand their nests and can cause a lot of damage if action is not taken to get rid of them.
Unlike termites that eat wood (see below), carpenter ants simply burrow into it, and generally into wood that has already been damaged by water or some sort of rot. For this reason the best approach is usually to remove fence posts or other wood fence components that have been invaded by these ants, and replace the wood.
Highly destructive little insects, termites eat the wood where they form colonies, and can usually be identified by the mud shelter tubes they construct. They mostly attack softwoods (from coniferous trees) although they do sometimes infest hardwood posts, rails and so on (made from broad-leafed deciduous trees.)
Termites pose the greatest threat to fences under the ground, after establishing colonies in dead roots or stumps. So when you construct a new fence or have one installed, it’s essential to remove old wood and stumps from the ground.
In the event of severe termite infestation that affects a wood fence, in addition to replacing the infested wood, it is usually best to have a pest control specialist treat the soil below the fence and around posts.
Beetles and Wood Borer
Not all beetles attack wood, but those that do can cause extensive damage. In Georgia, pine bark beetles are amongst the worst, infesting pine forests, particularly in times of drought. The southern pine beetle is another problem, particularly since trees suitable for pulpwood and sawn timber are often attacked. Ips engraver beetles, ambrosia and black turpentine beetles are also a problem in Georgia forests.
While these beetles cause damage to logs that are going to be sawn for lumber, it is the larvae of lyctid powderpost and anobiid powerpost beetles (also known as furniture beetles) that is more of a threat to wood fences. Both are small black to reddish-brown beetles that have larvae that feed on starch. Lyctid powederpost beetles mostly attack hardwoods (posing more of a threat to flooring and furniture), while anobiid powderpost beetles attack structural softwood, including the pillars, posts and other elements of wood fencing. The latter poses a much greater threat and can cause a lot of damage if the wood isn’t treated.
Large bees that look a lot like bumblebees, carpenter bees tunnel into wood making big, round holes. While the holes invite water and fungi – which can lead to rot – damage is usually minimal. The secret is to watch out for these pests and to seal the holes so that the bees and water are blocked from entering.
Large insects that look like wasps, but don’t sting, horntail wasps often find their way into softwood used for construction. Although more common in walls and floors of houses, these are also pests to watch out for with a wood fence. Fortunately they don’t cause much structural damage, and the holes they make can be filled.
Of course the best way to avoid pests successfully attacking wood fences is to ensure that they are constructed correctly from lumber that will resist them. If you live in Georgia and are considering installing a fence, or need a fence to be repaired, call Natural Enclosures now.