Skip to main content
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Coronavirus, Our Message to Our Customers

Wood Destroying Insects


The biggest part of fulfilling the American Dream is purchasing your own home. Once you've done this, the next step is protecting that home. The satisfaction and pride of owning your own home is something that can only be experienced. However, there are a few things that can interrupt that joyful experience, and wood-destroying insects sit at the top of that list.


Termites are usually the first wood-destroying insect that come to mind. While all wood destroying pests pose a threat to the home, the invasion, attack and severity of damage differs. Due to this, accurate identification is paramount in selecting the method of control and eradication.

Identifying a Termite:

  • Sports a rectangular shaped body with no waistline.
  • Have straight, beaded antennae.
  • Is equipped with four wings of equal shape and size that are longer than its body.

Type of Damage:

Termites are hungry insects; they feed on wood (with a preference for soft woods) and they have no trouble tunneling into wood that has no finishing product applied to its surface. If you have not stained, varnished or painted your wood deck or siding, your home could be susceptible to termite damage.  Termites cause over $5 billion in damages to homes and businesses in the U.S. every year and coverage for this damage is typically not covered by your basic homeowner’s insurance policy.  Signs of termites include wood that looks like it is rotting, mud tunnels along walls and foundations, and wood that looks to be sagging. You may also notice termite damage if you knock on the wood and it sounds hollow.  When you apply a stain, paint or varnish to your wood surface, you can make the wood much less appealing to hungry termites.  Take the time to finish your deck to help prevent it from weather wear and to make termite control that much easier to achieve. 

Carpenter Ants

While carpenter bees may stand alone with being easily identified, termites and carpenter ants are often mixed up and not properly diagnosed. However, there are a few traits of each that will make for accurate recognition.​

Identifying a Carpenter Ant:

  • Has a narrow, very defined and obvious waist.
  • The antennae of the carpenter ant are bent in an elbow shape.
  • The two front wings are noticeably longer than the hind wings.

Type of Damage:

Carpenter ants dig into the wood, but only to build their galleries. They do not eat the wood but rather push it out through the opening of the nest causing piles of sawdust to be one of the most obvious signs of carpenter ants versus termites. The carpenter ant prefers to work with moist, damaged wood while the termite will continue chewing and eating right into solid, undamaged wood. While they are both destructive, the wood-eating termite will do a greater amount of damage in a shorter period of time.

Carpenter Bee

Carpenter bees do not actually eat wood; they burrow into the wood to make their nests.  The female carpenter bee burrows into wood in the spring and summer months to lay their eggs and when the winter comes, they hide away in these burrows. Carpenter bees will often return to the same burrows, year after year, causing more and more damage every year. While they are often confused with bumblebees, their destructive nature makes them a much bigger nuisance.

Identifying a Carpenter Beer:

  • They look like bumble bees.
  • Carpenter bees have an abdomen that is shiny black and hairless.

Type of Damage:

Carpenter Bees build tunnels and nests inside wooden structures. The preferred choice of wood is normally softwood that is free of stain or paint. Carpenter bees build their nests by burrowing into decks, porches, roof eaves, sheds and even wooden deck furniture. The destruction is gradual and increases over a period of time due to the same galleries being used each year with new and expanded tunnels. The female carpenter bees do have a stinger but rarely use it unless threatened. These bees tend to fly around lazily and without much sense of direction, which could lead to them running into you.

How to Get Rid of Wood Destroying Pests

The termite, carpenter ant and carpenter bee, each pose a threat to the integrity and strength of your home in their own way. The risk of damage is too great to rely on DIY techniques. Fortunately for residents living in the greater St. Louis, Mid-Missouri and Western Illinois areas, Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions has designed management programs to eliminate these wood-destroying pests and give you peace of mind by keeping your home pest-free throughout the year. Call Rottler today and schedule one of their state licensed pest inspectors perform a thorough FREE inspection of your home.

Memberships & Associations

Angie's List Logo
Associate Certified Entomologist Logo
Copesan logo
NPMA QualityPro certification logo
BBB logo in white and blue