Wood boring insects can damage household buildings and furniture. Many can be extremely destructive and very difficult to eliminate. Immediate assistance is needed in these situations because otherwise, your belongings are going to get destroyed. When left untreated, the wood-boring insects will continue to bore through wood or wall cavities eating away at the wood. This leaves the possibility of structural collapse, severe water damage, and permanent damage to your home. Wood boring insect infestations need to be taken very seriously. When you begin treatment you’ll want to concentrate on eliminating the source of food and shelter as well as the insects themselves.
Many insects feed and make their homes in the bark, trunks, and branches of shade trees and shrubs in Texas. Insect borers belong to several different insect groups including a variety of beetles, moths, and horntail wasps.
Most insect borers are attracted to weakened, damaged, dying, or dead plants. These are referred to as “secondary invaders” because they attack only after a plant has been weakened by another stressor. Secondary invaders are a symptom of other problems with the health of the tree or shrub but may contribute to its decline. Secondary invaders include species from groups already mentioned, but also may include termites, carpenter bees, and carpenter ants.
Many other insects live in dying or dead trees, including natural enemies (predators and parasites) of the insect borers, sap or fungi feeders, or species that merely use the spaces provided by the tunnels and galleries as living quarters. Wood-boring insects that attack healthy trees and shrubs are called “primary invaders.” Primary invaders may eventually kill trees.
Getting Rid Of Wood Boring Insects
Wood-boring insects are insects that bore into the wood of a tree or other wooden structure. Because of this, they can cause structural damage to the building and even cause it to collapse. It is important that you take care of this problem as soon as possible to prevent any further damage from occurring.
The first step in treating wood-boring insects is to identify what type of insect is causing the problem. There are several types of wood-boring insects, including termites, carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, and ambrosia beetles. Each type requires a different treatment plan because they all have different life cycles and methods of reproduction.
To properly treat these types of pests, you will need to use an insecticide designed specifically for this purpose. You should not use any kind of household insecticide because it will not work effectively on these types of pests and may even kill them off before they have had a chance to reproduce which could lead to further infestations later down the line.
Borer infestations often go unnoticed until plants or parts of plants begin to die or show external signs of damage. Wood-boring insects often produce sawdust-like frass (excrement). Their holes are normally round, oval, or semicircular and are found in a random pattern on the plant. Woodpecker damage is sometimes confused with that of wood-boring beetles; however, woodpecker damage will not produce frass. One woodpecker, the yellow-bellied sapsucker, produces square holes in rows around a trunk or branch.
Borers tunnel in the inner bark layer (cambium), which transports nutrients and water to the leaves. When the cambium layer is completely girdled the plant eventually dies above or beyond the damaged site. Partial girdling reduces plant growth and vigor above the site of the attack. On occasion, tunneling makes the tree weak, causing limbs and branches to fall. Borer damage can severely affect the quality of lumber and can make trees susceptible to disease.
Long-horned beetles or round-headed borers (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)
Adults are called long-horned beetles because their antennae are occasionally longer than their bodies. Larvae tunnel underneath bark and into the heartwood. The tunnels are oval to almost round in cross-section because of the round shape of the larvae. Larvae of some species are legless, but most have three pairs of small legs on the first three segments behind the head capsule. While tunneling, larvae continually pack their tunnels with excrement (frass), which looks like compressed wood fibers or push frass out of the holes they produce. This excrement, along with the sap exuded by the plant in response to the damage, is often visible on the outside of infested trunks or branches. Many species of beetles belong to this group, but most are secondary invaders. Some examples of long-horned beetles are described below.
Locust borer (Megacyllene robiniae) adults are medium-sized (3 ⁄4 inch long) long-horned beetles frequently found feeding on goldenrods or other flowers in the fall. They are dark brown to black with distinctive gold-yellow markings. Larvae hatch from eggs laid in bark crevices. Visible symptoms of infestation are wet spots and frass on the bark of black locusts. Later, larvae tunnel into the inner bark and construct cells in which they spend the winter months. In a year the larvae are fully grown and about an inch in length.
Cottonwood borer (Plectrodera scalator) is frequently found on cottonwood, poplar, or willow trees. Adult beetles are large (11 ⁄4 inches long) with an attractive black and whitish-yellow pattern. They are active from May through August. The larvae (1.75 to 2 inches long) tunnel at the base of the trunk or below ground level. They require about 2 years to develop.
Red-headed ash borer (Neoclytus acuminatus) is one of the most common wood-boring beetles. It has a narrow body with a reddish thorax and light brown wing covers marked with four yellow lines on each. The yellow lines are slanted downward toward the middle, giving the appearance of a “V” across the back. The antennae are rather short and the long legs are thin and fragile. Redheaded ash borers feed on many species of wood including ash, oak, elm, and even grapes. Adults can be found on dead log piles and frequently emerge from firewood.
Red oak borer (Enaphalodes rufulus) attacks oak and maple trees and can be a serious pest in nurseries. The reddish-brown adults ( 5 ⁄8 to 11 ⁄8 inches long) lay eggs individually in bark crevices during July and August. Larvae tunnel under the bark and into the heartwood. Infested sites can be recognized by the frass around the buckled bark near the gallery entrance. Larvae often tunnel completely around the trunk or branches they infest, producing noticeable scars or girdling. Red oak borers feed for more than a year before pupating in chambers tunneled into the heartwood. Damage kills limbs or terminals and increases the risk of secondary invaders and diseases.
Twig girdler (Oncideres species) damage occurs primarily from egg laying. This insect attacks pecan, mimosa, chinaberry, and huisache. The grayish-brown adults (11 ⁄16 inch long) girdle limbs during the fall (late August through mid-November) by chewing a V-shaped groove entirely around twigs, branches, or terminals. Eggs are inserted into the bark on the girdled part of the branch away from the tree. Girdled limbs eventually break and fall to the ground, particularly during high winds and storms. Damage can disfigure a young tree and leads to secondary branching, particularly if the terminal is attacked. Larvae reach up to 7 ⁄8 inches long and are unable to develop in healthy sapwood. Removing the girdled twigs and branches from the ground during winter and spring and destroying them can reduce the population of these insects.
Twig and branch pruners (Elaphidionoides and Agrilus species) produce damage superficially similar to that of twig girdlers on elm, hackberry, hickory, maple, oak, pecan, persimmon, redbud, sweetgum and other trees. In these species, however, it is the larvae that girdle twigs and branches underneath the bark. The surface of the severed end of the twig is smooth. The insect usually severs branches where small twigs branch from the main, girdled branch.
Metallic wood-boring beetles (or flat-headed borers) (Coleoptera: Buprestidae)
Adult beetles are flattened, hard-bodied, and boat-shaped with short antennae. These are beautiful beetles with distinctive metallic colors (green, blue, bronze, copper). Larvae are cream-colored and legless with widened, flattened body segments just behind the heads. Consequently, when these larvae tunnel beneath bark or into the sapwood they produce oval or flattened tunnels in cross sections (Fig. 2). Galleries are often winding and packed with frass. Tunneling can girdle trunks and branches. Many species of flat-headed borers occur in the state. Most are secondary invaders.
Examples of flat-headed borers include the bronze birch borer (Agrilus anxius), uncommon in Texas because of the lack of host trees; Agrilus species found on oak and raspberry (A. bilineatus and A. ruficollis, respectively); flat-headed appletree borer (Chrysobothris femorata) and a closely related species that attacks recently transplanted or stressed shade, pecan and fruit trees.
Bark beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)
Beetles in this group tunnel below the bark of trees and/or into the wood. Adult beetles are small and reddish-brown to black. Larvae are creamcolored grubs without legs. One member of this group, the European elm bark beetle (Scolytus multistriatus), is the carrier of Dutch elm disease. It occurs in the Texas Panhandle but is infrequently encountered in other parts of Texas. Other members of this group are described below.
Southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) is a primary pest of southern pine forests. Adult beetles are active during warmer months (when temperatures are above 58 degrees F), and disperse widely to injured, weakened, or stressed trees in the spring. Seven or more generations may be completed within a year. When abundant, they can attack healthy trees. Larvae tunnel beneath the bark producing tunnels or galleries in patterns resembling the letter “S” (Fig. 5). This tunneling quickly disrupts the cambium layer, girdling the tree. Infested trees can have numerous masses of resin called “pitch tubes” on the tree trunk. Needles of newly attacked trees turn reddish brown 1 to 2 months after infestation during the summer, and up to 3 months afterward in the winter. Removal and destruction of infested trees may prevent healthy trees in the vicinity from being attacked.
Ips engravers (Ips. spp.) are often mistaken for the southern pine bark beetle because their appearance and damage are similar. Their gallery patterns tend to be more parallel to each other, however (Fig. 5). Ips usually attack weakened trees only. Recently felled wood should be covered with plastic to prevent Ip’s beetle infestation. The black turpentine beetle, Dendroctonus tenebrans, is another species attacking pines.
Shothole borers (Scolytus rugulosus) are secondary pests of common fruit trees (peach and plum), wild plums, and occasionally ash, elms, and Hawthorne. These bark beetles tunnel through the bark and makes small holes in the bark crevices.
Granulate ambrosia beetle (Xylosandrus crassiusculus) is a newly introduced species that attacks healthy, stressed, or freshly cut elm, pecan, peach, Prunus species, oak, sweetgum, and other trees in east Texas. Tiny (2 to 3 millimeters long), dark reddish-brown adult female beetles tunnel into twigs, branches, or small tree trunks, excavating a system of tunnels in the wood or pith in which they lay eggs. They also introduce a fungus on which the larvae feed. Visible damage includes wilted leaves on infested branches and protrusions of compressed wood dust from numerous small holes, resembling toothpicks pointing outward. Dead and dying areas of bark (cankers) can form at the damaged site, eventually girdling the tree and killing it. There are several generations per year. Chemical control of this species has been generally unsuccessful. Native ambrosia beetles are also called shot-hole or pine-hole borers. These species have similar biologies but rarely attack healthy, vigorous trees.
Weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)
Adult weevils have a characteristic snout that bears the chewing mouthparts (Fig. 6). Larvae are legless and cream-colored, and generally feed in cells or hollowed-out cavities underneath the bark rather than in galleries or tunnels as do bark beetles. Virginia pine plantings in Texas have suffered extensive damage from the deodar weevil, Pissodes nemorensis. These weevils attack the trunks during the winter, when young trees are in poor planting sites. Several weevil species attack the bases and roots of woody ornamental plants.
Wood-boring caterpillars (Lepidoptera)
These insects are in the immature stages of several kinds of moths. Caterpillars can be easily identified by their “false legs” (prolegs) with tiny rows of 4 Figure 5. Left to right: “S”-shaped egg galleries of the Southern pine beetle; “Y”- or “H”-shaped egg galleries of the Ips engraver beetles. Protrusions of compressed wood dust signal attack by the granulate ambrosia beetle. Figure 6. Deodar weevil larva, pupa and adult. hooks on the undersides of some of the abdominal segments (Fig. 7). Adult moths are rarely seen except when reared from the host plants or collected in blacklight traps. Several kinds of moth larvae tunnel into woody ornamental plants:
Carpenterworms (Prionoxystus robinae) are large larvae that tunnel through the trunks of oak, elm, black locust, willow, ash, boxelder, poplar, cottonwood, Chinese tallow, and fruit trees such as pear and cherry. These larvae develop over 2 or 3 years, initially feeding underneath the bark but later tunnelling into the heartwood. Outward signs of attack include piles of sawdust and excrement, particularly in cracks and crevices. Carpenterworms may enter and exit the trunk of the tree several times during their development. Several closely related species with similar life cycles also occur in Texas but may develop in other host trees. Adult moths, which emerge in the spring, are rather large with spotted wings.
Peach tree borer (Synanthedon exitiosa) is one of the most important insect pests of peach and plum. Adult peach tree borer moths mate and lay their eggs on the trunks of peach and plum (Prunus species) trees during August and September. These daytime fliers are one of several species often called clear-wing moths, and they look superficially like wasps (Fig. 7). Larvae hatch from eggs in about 10 days and tunnel beneath the bark for 10 to 11 months before emerging from the base of the trunk. Infected trees exhibit dieback, yellowing of leaves, stunted growth, and possible death if larvae girdle the trunk near the soil line (from 10 inches above the ground to 3 inches below the ground). After emerging, they drop into the soil to pupate at the base of the tree. Affected trees can be identified by masses of sap around damaged sites at the base of the trunk. Infestations can kill scaffolding limbs or entire trees.
Other species of clearwing moths are 1) the lilac or ash borer (Podosesia syringae), which has its adult flight period during the spring and early summer; 2) the dogwood borer (Synanthedon scitula); and 3) the lesser peach tree borer (Synanthedon pictipes).
Other caterpillar pests that occur in Texas include the southern pine coneworm (Dioryctria amatella), which tunnels around the bases of Virginia pine trunks (Fig. 8); Euzophera ostricolorella, a root collar borer that infests potted magnolia; and the American plum borer (Euzophera semifuneralis), which invades damaged or improperly pruned branches on a wide variety of woody ornamentals.
Managing Wood-boring Insects
Since most wood-boring insects are considered secondary invaders, the first line of defense against infestation is to keep plants healthy. Proper care of trees and shrubs discourages many borer pests and helps infested plants survive. Good sap flow from healthy, vigorously growing trees, for example, defends the plant from damage by many borer pests. Good horticultural practices include:
- Selecting well-adapted species of trees and shrubs that are not commonly attacked by wood borers in your area. Arizona ash, birch, cottonwood, locust, soft maple, flowering stone fruits (such as peaches and plums), slash pines (in west Texas), willow, and poplar are especially prone to borer attack.
- Choosing and preparing a good planting site to avoid plant stress, freeze damage, sun scald, and wind burn.
- Minimizing plant stress and stimulating growth by using proper watering and fertilization practices.
- Avoiding injury to tree trunks from lawnmowers, weed trimmers, or construction.
- Promptly caring for wounded or broken plant parts using pruning or wound paint during all but the coldest months of the year.
- Properly thinning and pruning during colder months.
- Removing and destroying infested, dying, or dead plants or plant parts, including fallen limbs. Wrapping tree trunks and limbs with quarter-inch hardware cloth spaced about 1 ½ inches from the tree’s surface where woodpecker damage is likely.
Wrapping trunks to prevent borer attacks is ineffective and may, under certain conditions, increase the rate of infestation. Using plastic trunk protectors to help prevent injury from lawnmowers and weed trimmers is a good idea.
Non-chemical control for infested plants
Once trees and shrubs are infested, non-chemical options for borer control are limited. One option is to remove and destroy heavily infested or injured plants. Also, inspect damaged sites closely to determine if the larvae can be extracted from the plant with a pocket knife, wire, or another suitable tool.
Because stress, unhealthy trees are more susceptible to insect attack, maintaining overall tree health is vital in reducing the risk of wood-boring insect infestations and limiting the need for costly and environmentally damaging insecticides. Older trees and those damaged by drought or other environmental stress also will not benefit from control efforts.
Table 1 lists some insecticides registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for wood-boring insect control on trees and shrubs. Some of these products are for professional or commercial use only and not available at retail outlets. In addition, the product labels specify where the product is to be used, such as nurseries or landscapes, and which pest or pest category it targets. Choose products according to the labeled restrictions. Do not use insecticides on fruit or nut trees unless specifically labeled for them. Some products sold mainly through specialty stores may require the purchaser to have a Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide applicator’s license.
Application timing and method also may be specified on the label. Some products are preventive only; others are to be used during the target pest’s adult flight periods. Bark sprays target egg-laying females or the adult stages emerging from the host plant. They also may kill small larvae. Bark sprays generally use residual insecticides such as carbaryl or pyrethroid insecticides such as bifenthrin or permethrin. Only a few products are effective on larvae tunneling beneath the bark, such as that of the flathead borer beetles. These systemic products usually are applied as soil drenches so the insecticide can be absorbed by the roots or injected into the trunk; the insecticide imidacloprid is applied as either a soil drench or a trunk injection. Dinotefuran also may provide some control of wood-boring beetles.
Retail sales of diazinon, chlorpyrifos (Dursban®), and endosulfan (Thiodan®) products have been discontinued. Diazinon and lindane are no longer available for insect control and chlorpyrifos is available only for use in commercial nurseries. Products containing these ingredients may still be used according to label directions if you first contact the manufacturer to ascertain that usage is allowed. Otherwise, they should be disposed of using directions provided by city, county, or state pesticide authorities.
Only a few products for controlling wood-boring insects are available at retail stores. Occasionally these products’ containers have labels that are taped to the container and cannot be read before purchase. The products’ names may indicate target pests, such as Fertilome® Borer, Bagworm, Tent Caterpillar & Leafminer Spray, but the actual label has use directions for only the peach twig borer (a caterpillar of a clearwing moth species) on fruit trees. In other cases, lists of pests on products that are available only to commercial applicators are more extensive than those on products available to homeowners, such as those containing pyrethroid insecticides, bifenthrin, and permethrin.
Know pesticide regulations. Insecticide use is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (https://www.epa.gov/pesticides) and the Texas Department of Agriculture.
- The law mandates that pesticides be used according to label directions with a few exemptions: An user can use an insecticide for pests not listed on the product label as long as the use site is listed. Section 2(ee) of FIFRA (page 13) allows for the use of any registered pesticide “against any target pest not specified on the labeling if the application is to the crop, animal, or site specified on the labeling…” Thus, if a particular insect borer is not listed on a product labeled for use on trees and shrubs but others are listed, or other products include mention of those pests, that product may be used to try to control the unlisted pest.
- Some products claiming insect control now being sold may not be registered by the EPA because of an exemption described in Section 25 (b) (on page 89 and on the Web site https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/pesticide-registration-notices-year). Only those pesticides registered by the EPA are listed in this publication.
Adult wood borers sometimes emerge from firewood stored indoors. While most of these insects are not considered harmful, old house borer and powderpost beetles will attack seasoned, dry wood inside the home (see the Texas AgriLife Extension Service publication E-394, “Structure-Infesting Wood-Boring Beetles”). Treating firewood with insecticide is both ineffective and potentially dangerous to the homeowner. Wood should be stored outdoors away from the house until just before use. If firewood is infested with borers it can be treated by wrapping it in a tarp and allowing sunlight to heat it. Stacking wood layers in alternate directions will help it dry and reduce areas that can harbor insects. Firewood can spread exotic wood-borer species. Do not transport firewood to new areas, such as out-of-state campgrounds. Obtain campfire wood locally for use on such occasions.
Policy Statement for Making Chemical Control Suggestions
All pesticides are potentially hazardous to people and the environment. Pesticide users are legally required to read and carefully follow all directions and safety precautions on the container label. The user is always responsible for the effects of pesticide residues, as well as problems that could arise from the drift or movement of the pesticide to neighboring areas. Label instructions are subject to change, so read the label carefully before buying or using any pesticide. Proper disposal of leftover pesticides and “empty” or used containers are essential steps in safe pesticide use. Never pour leftover pesticides down a drain.
Regardless of the information provided in an Extension publication, always follow the product’s label. When in doubt about any instructions, contact the pesticide seller or the manufacturer listed on the label. Store all pesticides in their original labeled containers and keep them out of the reach of children.
Suggested pesticides must be registered and labeled for use by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Department of Agriculture. The status of pesticide label clearances is subject to change and may have changed since this publication was printed. County Extension agents and appropriate specialists are advised of changes as they occur.
List Of Insecticide For Wood Boring Insects
Wood-boring insects are a big problem in the world. Some of them are pests that can eat through your house, while others will only eat away at your trees and shrubs.
Regardless of what kind of wood-boring insect you have to deal with, it’s important to try and get rid of them as quickly as possible. If you don’t, they could cause serious damage to your home or yard.
Here’s a list of pesticides for wood-boring insects:
- Disodium octaborate Tetrahydrate (Borate) 40%
- How Bora-Care Works Boracare contains an inorganic borate salt, soluble in water, with insecticidal
- Wood Destroying Fungus, Termite Control, and wood-destroying insects such as termites, carpenter
Additional Info :
Sawyer Products SP657 Premium Permethrin Insect Repellent for Clothing, Gear & Tents, Trigger Spray, 24-Ounce
- Add a layer of protection to your clothing and gear with Permethrin insect and tick repellent spray — perfect for use on shirts, jackets, pants, socks, shoes, boots, sleeping bags, tents, netting, when outdoors, camping, hunting, or on travel
- Ideal for backpacking, backyard BBQs, and other outdoor activities, it’s effective against more than 55 kinds of insects — from disease-spreading ticks (Lyme disease) and mosquitoes (West Nile and Zika viruses) to chiggers, spiders, mites, and more
- Permethrin spray bonds to fabric fibers for up to 6 weeks or through 6 washings (whichever comes first) and won’t stain or damage clothing, fabrics, plastics, finished surfaces, or outdoor gear; odorless after drying
- Reduce the likelihood of a tick bite by 73.6 times by treating shoes and socks with Permethrin (University of Rhode Island study – 2017)
- 24-ounce trigger spray bottle treats five complete outfits (updated EPA dosage is 4.5 ounces per outfit consisting of shirt, pants, and socks); maximize protection by pairing with Sawyer Picaridin topical repellent for the skin
Additional Info :
FMC Talstar Pro 3/4 Gal-Multi Use Insecticide
Additional Info :
Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter2: With Comfort Wand, Kills Ants, Cockroaches, Spiders, Fleas & Ticks, Odor Free, 1.1 gal.
Price: $14.49 ($0.10 / Fl Oz)
- Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter2 with Comfort Wand kills ants, cockroaches, spiders, fleas, ticks, and other listed bugs; the formula is odor free, won’t stain, and keeps listed bugs out
- KILLS BUGS INSIDE: Kills those annoying home-invading insects, including ants, cockroaches, spiders, fleas, ticks, scorpions, beetles, silverfish, centipedes, and millipedes
- KEEPS BUGS OUTSIDE: Creates a bug barrier that will kill bugs you have and prevents new bugs for up to 12 months (applies to ants, roaches, and spiders indoors on non-porous surfaces)
- NO STAINING OR STINK: This spray can be used indoors and out, leaves no residue, and has no odor; people and pets may re-enter treated areas after the spray has dried
- WAND MAKES APPLICATION EASY: The Comfort Wand eliminates hand fatigue, and there’s no pumping required, making it easy to spray along your home’s perimeter–indoors and outside
Additional Info :
Cutter 61067 HG-61067 32Oz Rts Bug-Free Spray, 1 pack, Silver Bottle
Price: $8.97 ($0.28 / Ounce)
- KILLS FAST: Kills mosquitoes, listed ant types, fleas, and other listed insects
- QUICKFLIP HOSE-END SPRAYER: Hose-end-sprayer activates spray at the flip of a switch – just grip, flip and go
- LASTS ALL SUMMER: Controls up to 12 weeks against house crickets, carpenter ants, harvester ants, lady beetles, and earwigs
- COVERAGE: Treats up to 5,000 square feet of lawn
- NO MIXING REQUIRED: Attach the sprayer to a garden hose to treat your lawn, landscape, and outdoor surfaces where insects hide
Additional Info :
There are many different ways to manage wood-boring insects. The first step is to determine which type of insect you’re dealing with and then use the appropriate control method. Keep in mind that this is a difficult task and one that requires an experienced professional who can identify the insects and determine the best treatment for them.