Fortunately, only a few insects actually damage sound, dry wood. Of these, subterranean termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees and certain powderpost beetles are the primary insects that can destroy/damage wood. Dry-rot fungi are the primary wood decay organisms where high moisture permits the fungus to grow.

The potential for damage from any of these pests varies by region and climate with more damage in warmer, wet conditions and generally less in cool, dry conditions. Powderpost beetles can damage hardwoods, like flooring and furniture.

Carpenter bees and carpenter ants are not considered true "wood destroying organisms" but are included here for those seeking information on pests that damage wood in and around their homes. True wood destroying pests actually digest or eat wood. Powder post beetles (powderpost beetles) and termites are very common pests of wood and furniture. Click on the links below to find more information for the listed pests. E

Carpenter Ants
Carpenter Bees
Poderpost Beetle

Powderpost beetles lay their eggs in cracks of wood and the larvae tunnel into the surface, filling it with a very fine powder-like dust. Powderpost beetles have long, narrow, flat bodies that allow them to easily attack wood surfaces. These beetles are reddish-brown in color.

HABITS: Adult powderpost beetles are very active at night, enjoy flying and are attracted to the light.

HABITAT: Powderpost beetles often attack hardwoods, and can be found in hardwood floors, timbers and crates, antiques and other objects made of hardwood materials.

THREAT: Some researchers believe that powderpost beetles are second only to termites in the United States in their destructiveness to wood and wood products.

Powderpost Beetle Stats

NEST SITE / CHARACTERISTICS: This serious structural pest nests in sound wood but prefers fungus- or moisture-damaged wood. Outside, it nests in dead trees, rotting stumps and beneath rocks and logs. Colonies can be large, with up to 100,000 workers and multiple queens. Look for coarse sawdust piles (frass) that will also contain insect body parts. Another indicator is the sound produced as workers chew to remove wood to enlarge the nest.

Carpenter ants forage alone or along trails 300 or more feet from the nest. “Trunk trails” between parent and satellite nests are clear of vegetation and debris, typically cutting across lawns. Carpenter ants enter buildings around door and window frames, through eaves, along plumbing and utility lines, and over branches touching the building. Peak foraging occurs at night.

FEEDING PREFERENCES: Carpenter ants feed primarily on insect honeydew, plant and fruit juices and insects. Indoors, they feed on food debris, including sweets, eggs, meats, cakes, pet foods and grease.


The American dog tick gets its name from the fact that adult ticks prefer domestic dogs as hosts, and this tick species is only found in North America.

HABITS: It is thought that American dog ticks are attracted by the scent of animals, so they are common along roads and trails. Adult ticks prefer domestic dogs as hosts and can therefore be brought into the home and potentially transferred to humans.

HABITAT: These ticks prefer grassy areas with low vegetation where larger mammals pass by. American dog ticks do not survive well indoors.

THREAT: The American dog tick is the primary vector of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the United States. It is also known to transmit tularemia, a rare bacterial infection, and cause tick paralysis.


A notorious biting arachnid, the blacklegged tick is named for its dark legs, which are in contrast to its pale body. Blacklegged ticks are sometimes called deer ticks.

HABITS: During the winter, adult ticks feed primarily on the blood of white-tailed deer, which is why they are sometimes called deer ticks. In the spring, a female tick will drop off its host and will deposit about 3,000 eggs. Nymphs, or baby ticks, feed on mice, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, dogs, humans and birds.

HABITAT: Blacklegged ticks prefer to hide in grass and shrubs while waiting for a passing host.

THREAT: Blacklegged ticks or deer ticks are a vector of anaplasmosis, babeosis and Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a primary concern in the United States. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic bull’s eye-shaped skin rash. Lyme disease can also affect joints, the heart and the nervous system if left untreated.


The brown dog tick is named for its color and because it is found on domestic dogs. Although it is unusual for a brown dog tick to bite humans, it will do so in the absence of a canine host.

HABITS: Brown dog ticks prefer dogs as hosts. They typically attach to the ears or between the toes and do not travel very far after dropping off a host. They are unique because they can complete their entire life cycle indoors.

HABITAT: This tick survives best indoors and prefers warm, dry conditions.

THREAT: Brown dog ticks rarely attack humans, but they can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and several other tick-borne diseases to dogs including canine ehrlichiosis and canine babesia.


The lone star tick gets its name from the single silvery-white spot located on the female's back. These ticks attack humans more frequently than any other tick species in the eastern and southeastern states.

HABITS: The lone star tick is considered a three-host tick because each feeding stage requires a different host. Feeding typically occurs during the spring and early summer months. Larvae and nymphs feed on the blood of birds, rodents and small wild animals like rabbits, squirrels and raccoons. Adults often feed on larger animals, including foxes, dogs, white-tailed deer and humans. This tick species then enters a non-feeding period in mid to late summer, which is triggered by decreasing day length.

HABITAT: Lone star ticks cannot survive long exposures to sunlight, so they are typically found in shaded, wooded areas with low-growing vegetation.

THREAT: All three developmental stages of the lone star tick can feed on humans by attaching to the skin using its mouthparts. This tick can be a vector of tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis.


The Rocky Mountain wood tick - also known more simply as the wood tick - gets its name from its primary distribution in the Rocky Mountain states and its preferred habitat of wooded areas.

HABITS: Similar to the lone star tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick is considered a three-host tick because each feeding stage requires a different host. This tick species becomes active with the first warm days of spring, usually feeding from mid-March to mid-July - when humans are most susceptible to wood tick-related diseases. Larvae and nymphs feed mainly on rodents such as voles, chipmunks and squirrels. Adults prefer to feed on medium to large animal hosts including sheep, deer and humans.

HABITAT: Rocky Mountain wood ticks are usually found in wooded areas with low-growing vegetation, open grasslands and around trails. This tick is found at higher densities at lower elevation. This environment helps them easily attach to a passing host that brushes against the vegetation. Nymphs and adults overwinter in ground debris.

THREAT: The Rocky Mountain wood tick is a primary vector of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a severe infectious disease with a mortality rate of more than 20 percent. A tick needs to be attached for more than two hours before the disease is transmitted, so early detection is key. The main symptom is a full body rash that develops 2-5 days after the bite.

This tick species can also transmit Colorado tick fever and tularemia, and is known to cause tick paralysis when it feeds for at least 5-6 days.


Carpenter bees look like typical bumblebees but often lack yellow stripes. This type of stinging bee gets its common name from its habit of boring into wood like a carpenter.

HABITS: Unlike bumble bees, carpenter bees are solitary insects. The adult carpenter bees hibernate over winter, typically in abandoned nest tunnels and emerge in the spring to feed on nectar.

HABITAT: Carpenter bees do not live in nests or colonies. Instead, female carpenter bees bore circular holes through soft wood to lay eggs and protect their larvae as they develop.

THREAT: Carpenter bees are a serious property threat, as they can cause structural damage over time if left untreated. Male carpenter bees can be territorial and may hover in front of one's face aggressively, but they have no stinger and these actions are merely for show. Female carpenter bees do have a potent stinger, but it's rarely used.