While there are thousands of species of insects, there are just a handful that homeowners are most concerned with. These include carpenter ants, wood boring beetles and termites. Also, keep in mind, just because you see a carpenter ant or beetle, this is not indication enough that you have an active infestation that's eating away at your logs. Keeping your logs dry goes a long way in providing a sound barrier against wood boring pest, which prefer moist wood. Borates can also treat your home against the infestation of these critters. For identification of some of these pests, click on the links below:
Preserving Your Home
The mere sighting of a tiny hole in your log or an ant observed under your kitchen sink in no way is indicative that you have a major infestation with structural damage to your logs. Certainly carpenter ants, beetles and termites can do long term damage to your home but it's also common to find carpenter ants in your home during the spring that don't cause damage.
If your first sighting of these pests is several days following the first sunny, warm day in March or April, there more than likely is a nest in or near your home. If they arenít seen for weeks, or months following the start of spring, chances are they are intruding your home simply looking for food. A glycol-based or powder-based borate wood preservative (Shell-Guard or Armor-Guard) are very popular preservatives which are fatal to carpenter ants and other wood ingesting pests which bite into the wood (including fungus).
While there are remedies to eliminate these pests, the best method of prevention is to eliminate high moisture conditions to which they are attracted. To differentiate carpenter ants from termites, recognize the following: 1) Termites are generally lighter in color, 2) Termites have a more broad waist, 3) Carpenter ants have bent antennae, and 4) The 4 wings on a termite are of equal length. Also, if you think you see a termite, it probably isn't one as they are seldom seen and usually avoid the light.
Shell-Guard, probably the most popular glycol / borate log preservative, is a concentrate which is diluted with warm water, 1:1. It can be brushed or sprayed on and is a very deep penetrating solution that doesn't need to be reapplied as long as you keep your log sealed. After curing (which can take from 4 days to 6 weeks, depending on temperature), it helps eliminate all wood ingesting critters by disrupting their digestive system and causing them to starve to death. It has no harmful effect to your grass, foliage or pets.
Shell-Guard may also be used on the interior of your home with little concerns. It has no odor and simply cleans up with water. Keep in mind, to be effective the bugs need to chew into the wood such as beetles, carpenter ants or termites. Even though carpenter ants don't eat wood, they do chew into it to create their tunnels. The borates will also be effective on eliminating the spreading of an active wood eating fungus ("wood rot").
Armor-Guard, the "powder version" of Shell-Guard can also be applied under the same conditions (after washing and prior to staining or sealing). While this low cost alternative to Shell-Guard is effective, it's more of a topical treatment that can weather off in time. In areas that won't be exposed to the weather (inside wall cavities, subfloor, etc.), its normally the chosen product due to its low cost and effectiveness.
Borates are normally applied following a log washing (or on new construction) and prior to the home being stained and / or sealed. The borates won't penetrate the stain to get to the wood. If your home has a sufficient coat of stain but if you've isolated an infestation in an area of your home, we can drill and inject the borates into that hot spot, which will help eliminate your concerns.