Whether interior or exterior, well-built, properly-maintained woodwork can last for centuries but if wood-boring pests like beetles, termites, and carpenter ants find their way into the wood, they can wreak all kinds of havoc. Wood-destroying insects are more than a nuisance; they are dangerous and can cause significant, costly damage to the structure of a townhome, condo or co-op. They can also cost a small fortune to eradicate.
Wood You Rather
Even with its acres of concrete and steel-beam construction, New York City co-ops and condos, especially buildings on Long Island and in the boroughs, are not immune to wood-chewing pests attacking elements like decks, door frames, and railings. Jeff Dworkin, president of Ecology Exterminating Service Corp. in Brooklyn, has been helping remove wood insects from urban condos and co-ops for more than 40 years. He consistently deals with termites and beetles that sneak in through furniture and floors. Dworkin says these beetles come in through antique furniture from overseas (particularly South America and Africa), bed-frames, desks and nightstands.
Louis Taranto, owner of Tonto Pest Control in Brooklyn, echoes Dworkin, adding that wood-destroying insects often enter buildings searching for food, but often hitch a ride inside wood products brought into the home—like the aforementioned old furniture.
And oftentimes, you don’t even see them until the damage is being done. “Wood destroying insects will damage wood while feeding on it, or creating tunnels and nesting areas in it,” he says. “They are generally very secluded, spending most of their time inside the wood they are invading.” The telltale signs of wood pest infestation include tiny pinholes visible on wooden surfaces, or even little piles of sawdust collecting under a wooden frame, art object, or piece of furniture—the debris left over from the critters’ chewing and tunneling.
An Insect Primer
According to Michael Bentley, Ph.D., staff entomologist for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), “Termites and wood-destroying beetles are the most economically important wood-destroying pests that infest homes (including co-ops and condos) in the U.S.” Of the two, it’s termites that are the most problematic and economically important—and the pests are found in every state in the union but Alaska.