List of wood destroying insects

Updated July 20, 2017

When it comes to wood-damaging insects, there are many more than just termites. Dozens of different insect species can infiltrate wood and slowly destroy it, causing structural damage. It's important to identify the type of insect that is causing the damage in order to remove them. As a safety precaution, it is always a good idea to contact a professional when attempting to identify or remove wood-damaging insects.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants earned their name due to the fact that they destroy wood quite efficiently. Carpenter ants are black or reddish-black insects that nest in cavities above ground level. Damage occurs when carpenter ants attempt to expand their nests, causing structural wood damage. Other damage may occur to soft building materials and insulation.


Termites are the most well-known insects that cause wood damage. These small delicate insects construct colonies within wood structures. Termites eat wood fibre, and damage usually occurs from the inside out. Termites generally damage softwoods but can also damage hardwood areas as well.

Lyctid Powderpost Beetles

Lyctid powderpost beetles are small and reddish brown to black in colour. The beetle larvae directly infest wood, destroying it. The beetles feed on starch and cause damage mostly to hardwood surfaces such as furniture, cabinets and flooring. Lyctid powderpost beetles leave small exit holes, which are covered in a dusty powder.

Round-Headed Wood Borers

Round-headed wood borers are large, cream-coloured wood-infesting larvae with a prominent head capsule. Adults turn into large, colourful beetles with a long antenna. These beetles generally live in living or dead trees and cause damage to hardwoods and softwoods. The beetles generally cause limited damage because they do not reinfest the wood after the first generation.

Horntail Wasps

Horntail wasps are large insects with a long stinger. Horntail wasps generally emerge in newly constructed homes up to around 3 years old. Structural damage is minor and usually results in aesthetic damage to wall or floor coverings. Horntail wasps generally leave large half-inch exit holes that are easy to identify.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are large, heavy bees that look similar to the common bumblebee. Carpenter bees leave multiple large exit holes usually at right angles. This allows water and fungi to enter their intricate network of tunnels. Most of the damage is located around exterior trim, doors and sliding.

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