As wet weather continues to pummel Queensland, a variety of timber-loving pests are making their way into drenched homes and gardens.
Heat and humidity are playing a part, with recent conditions “increasing the presence of a lot of the pests that we deal with”, according to Gavin Shill, who runs a pest extermination business.
“[But insects] are a part of nature, so you will find from time to time they will pop up.”
What is a borer and how do I know if they’re present?
Borers, also known as borer ants, are beetles that feed on wood.
Mr Shill said the insects are “in the larval stage” when they are doing damage.
The pests leave unique traces of their activity through the waste they leave behind, known as insect frass.
“If you’re finding wood shavings, or little pellets, things like that — keep an eye out,” Mr Shill said.
Wood-boring pests are similar to termites in that they both attack timber, but a tree will usually show signs of illness prior to an infestation.
“Most of the time the tree will be sort of sick — not dying, but sick — before [the pests] are able to get in,” he added.
How can borers cause damage?
Pinhole-style borers are typically found in modern timbers, while the powderpost beetle is often found outdoors, Mr Shill said.
“If a bit of timber has been around for 20 years, there’s a specific wood-borer that will actually only attack timbers [that have] been in service for that long.”
Left untreated in homes and gardens, wood-borers “will keep on eating through the grain of the timber”, causing it to become “spongier” until it can no longer hold weight.
“Over time, obviously [infested wood] does get weaker,” Mr Shill said.
“Most [of the] time, when you’re seeing the damage from them — those wood shavings and holes — typically they’re exiting that bit of timber.”
How can I get rid of borers?
When it comes to the garden, there’s not much you can do to “protect [trees] from wood-borers”, Mr Shill said, but a protective material can be painted on some outdoor timber like fences and play equipment.
If pests are already present, where they’re found and what material they’re attacking can determine how long it takes to treat the problem, he added.
“If it’s a floorboard, nine times out of 10 it’s actually cheaper and better to pull [out and] replace that floorboard,” he said.
“Then make sure none of the other floorboards have got any signs of [pest] activity.”