Termites, powderpost beetles and carpenter ants are some types of wood-boring insects. These wood-destroying insects cause damage to both hardwood and softwood in many residential homes.
Termites are one of the most destructive types of insects that thrive in warm or tropical climates. Unlike other wood-boring insects, termites can digest wood fiber and convert it into sugar as their energy source. They usually consume softwood, but they are able to eat through hardwood as well. Because they often start eating the wood from the inside, they can do extensive and unnoticeable damage to the wood.
Powderpost beetles are wood-destroying insects that damage hardwoods, such as ash, maple and oak, and softwoods, such as fir, spruce and pine. The larvae forms of most powderpost beetles, such as anobiid, lyctid and old house borers, often damage the wood, but some adult forms, such as the bostrichid powderpost beetle, can also cause extensive damage. Adult female powderpost beetles usually bore holes or lay eggs on wood splinters. The larvae feed on the wood until they reach adulthood, which often takes months to years to complete.
Carpenter ants are the most damaging insects in temperate or cooler climates. These large powerful ants nest in tree stumps, subfloor woods, walls and roofs where they can cause unseen extensive damage if not controlled. In eastern United States, carpenter ants prefer moisture-damaged wood, while carpenter ants thriving in the western part of the United States can damage wood in relatively dry situations.