Wood Destroying Organisms

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter Ants: These larger ants are attracted to wet and rotting wood and can be structurally damaging. Building nests in damp, decaying or hollow wood or forests, unlike the termite, carpenter ants do not consume wood.


There are countless types of beetles on earth, but only a few are wood-destroying structural pests.

Ambrosia Beetle

Ambrosia Beetle: These small brown or black beetles cultivate “ambrosia fungi” in colonies inside cut or felled trees or fresh, unseasoned lumber. Damage to cut timber can occur when not seasoned or dried quickly – often not discovered until transport and construction have occurred.

Bark Beetle

Bark Beetle: Many types of bark beetles generally feed on the inner bark layers of trees. Some are helpful in the ecological renewal of forests by hastening the process of dead or dying wood and renewing forests. Some, however, infest rapidly and feed on healthy trees, thus are considered pests.

Deathwatch Beetle

Deathwatch Beetle: The Western Deathwatch Beetle causes most beetle-related structural wood damage in coastal areas. Older hardwood timber or that with heavy moisture or rot is susceptible. They lay eggs in the crevices and the larvae bore holes for years before emerging as adults. Often replacing damaged wood is required to resolve infestations.

Powder Post Beetle

Powder Post Beetle: These structural pests feed on starch in hardwood deciduous trees, over time reducing them to a powdery dust. They also feed on bamboo. Common infestations are found in hardwood flooring, trim, plywood and furniture articles.


Termites feed on wood, paper, cardboard and other cellulose-containing materials. There are two common species in the Pacific Northwest: the Western Subterranean Termite and the Pacific Dampwood Termite.

Subterranean Termite

Subterranean Termite: Often discovered by the presence of the shelter tubes they build from the soil up a foundation wall (much smaller). They will often live on wood or cellulose material that is buried in the ground, even 10-20 feet below surface. They can cause significant structural damage.

Dampwood Termite

Dampwood Termite: is much larger and affects wet wood and areas touching soil or poorly ventilated crawl-spaces for example.

People sometimes confuse flying ants with termites:

winged termite vs winged ant diagram

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