INSECTS WHICH ATTACK STRUCTURAL TIMBER
Beetles and Termites are small insects which can fly as adults, lay eggs in untreated timber, and chew wood as their source of food. The worms ( larvae ) will burrow, eating the timber until ready to mature into the adult and reproductive phase. Termites have a slightly different biology, having a complex caste system.
Examples of destructive South African species:
Female lays eggs in wood during Summer. Larvae (worm) chews wood for about three years, after which it pupates, and hatches into adult Beetle. Adult can fly, and lives for about three weeks when reproduction takes place. Size +- 15mm.
FURNITURE BEETLE/ANOBIUM PUNCTATUM
As above, but egg to adult beetle stage takes +- 9 months. Size +- 4mm. A serious worldwide woodborer which attacks most types of wood.
DRY WOOD: Eggs produced by female (Queen). Different castes exist – Nymphs, Soldiers, Reproductives (these fly, and have to leave colony to form new colonies. Size +- 5mm.) These highly destructive insects do not need to have soil contact, and will nest in the timber. Found generally from Eastern Cape up to KZN, and also known to exist in Constantia, City Bowl, Cape Town, brought in by traders centuries ago.
SUBTERRANEAN: Similar to Dry Wood termites, but have a worker caste, and exist in underground areas, or in old buildings with clay brick walls. Found north of Cape Town (Boland) and countrywide, there is an interesting and serious infestation known to exist in Simonstown, mainly in the Naval dockyard buildings, by one of the world’s most destructive invaders – the Formosan subterranean termite.
HARVESTER TERMITES: A subterranean termite that can cause property damage by eating carpets, pushing vast amounts of soil and debris from cracks in walls and floors, which do not eat structural timber, but collect bits of dry grass and leaves. They can undermine walls and foundations.
Minute fungus which attacks the cells of timber, and causes rapid and serious structural decay, particularly in damp conditions. All these organisms live on the cellulose (starch) of timber.