Wood Destroying Insects (WDI) - What They Are and How to Keep Them Out of Your Home

Wood Destroying Insects (WDI) - What They Are and How to Keep Them Out of Your Home

There are few possessions as important to a family as their home. We work for years to be able to purchase our dream house. Once we have it, we spend countless hours making it our own and filling it with memories. We know we need to protect it from potential problems, such as:

  • Burglars: We build fences and install security systems to prevent people from breaking into our homes. 
  • Weather: We watch the weather to make sure our homes won’t be impacted by high winds or flooding rain. 
  • Aging: We pay close attention to our aging appliances and systems. We make sure we replace our roofing before it begins to leak, our heating and air conditioning before it fails, and our deck boards before they become unsafe. 
  • Deterioration: We look for any sign that our paint is peeling or surfaces deteriorating and make sure we repaint and rehab the walls and flooring. 

One type of house-killers to which homeowners may not be as attentive is Wood Destroying Insects (WDIs). It is one thing to pay close attention to the big things, but how can you keep up with tiny pests? And how could something so tiny do that much damage? 

Unfortunately, termites, carpenter ants, and other wood destroying insects pose one of the most significant threats to your home. 


The team at Rid-A-Bug Exterminating has seen its share of destructive insects in the Carolinas and Virginia. Quickly identifying and exterminating WDIs is key to minimizing damage and protecting your home. 


In this article, we are helping homeowners in the Carolinas and Virginia win the battle against Wood Destroying Insects. In this guide, we are covering:

  1. How to Tell If You Have Wood Destroying Insects
  2. How to Identify Wood Destroying Insects
  3. How to Get Rid Of Wood Destroying Insects
  4. How to Prevent Wood Destroying Insects

If you know you have termites or other WDIs, contact Rid-A-Bug immediately before they do any more damage

1 how to tell

1) How to Tell if You Have Wood Destroying Insects

Wood destroying insects will not announce their presence. They won’t ring the doorbell or provide any kind of warning. In fact, they could be around for months or years before you ever notice. It is vital for homeowners to keep an eye out for the signs WDIs are occupying and eating your home:

Signs You Have WDIs

  • Soft spots in wooden flooring and stairs 
  • Mud tubes on the outside of your home
  • Hollow places in your wooden rails, studs, and floor
  • Windows and doors that have mysteriously started jamming
  • Excess moisture, especially in basements and attics
  • Holes in your home’s exterior surfaces 
  • Termites leave behind discarded wings, which you may find in a piles
  • Something similar to a bumblebee buzzing just outside your home, maybe around your fascia or soffit
  • Wood that seems to be disintegrating

The key to reducing the damage done by WDIs is early identification. You want to catch them as quickly as possible. However, they are often smart enough to hide out of plain sight, in places like your basement or crawlspace. Make sure you develop a routine of inspecting your home for these signs and contact an exterminator immediately if you find any evidence of wood-destroying insects. 

2 identify

2) How to Identify Wood Destroying Insects

If you have observed evidence that wood-destroying insects have become unwanted guests in your home, you need to know exactly what kind of WDI has invaded your home. Here are some of the most common WDIs in the Carolinas and Virginia and the characteristics by which you can identify them. The big three WDIs are termites, carpenter ants, and carpenter bees. 


The word termite strikes fear in the hearts of homeowners. They are the creatures of which nightmares are made. 

What Termites Look Like: Termites are tiny. A termite's wings are of the same size and appear mostly symmetrical. They're shaped like a long oval and are highly rounded. Termites have straight antennae that are beaded. They are not segmented like ants. 

Flying ants are often confused with termites. We wrote here about how you can identify them:

“Termites don't have pinched segments. Their bodies are a similar thickness most of their length. An ant's body has three very obvious segments. Each segment thins before the next one starts.”

Visit this page on our website for more information and a video about identifying ants vs. termites. 

What Termites Do: Termites do about five billion dollars of damage to homes in the United States each year. Approximately 600,000 homeowners have to deal with the tiny terrors annually. Termites eat wood and paper. While they are a helpful and essential part of nature when it’s your house on which they are feasting, they are one of the most destructive insects in the world. 

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants may not make homeowners feel the same sense of foreboding as termites, but they can cause significant issues. 

What Carpenter Ants Look Like: In a previous post, we wrote this helpful description of carpenter ants, ​​“Carpenter ants are large in size compared to common ants. They have an extra-large, round thorax and giant mandibles (jaws). They are typically black but can have shades of red and yellow.” If you see one, there is a good chance you have a colony near or in your home. 

What Carpenter Ants Do: Carpenter ants do not eat your home, which means they do not do quite as much damage as termites. However, they should not be ignored. Their goal is to build a colony, and if your house has some moist, rotting wood, they may deem it perfect for building an entire village. 

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter Bees are probably the cutest entry on this list, but there is nothing adorable about the damage they can do to your home. 

What Carpenter Bees Look Like: Carpenter bees look almost exactly like bumblebees. They have a fuzzy yellow body with a black, hairless abdomen. However, unlike their friendlier counterparts who prefer flowers, carpenter bees will be seen around your home’s exterior wood surfaces.

What Carpenter Bees Do: Carpenter bees build their nests inside your home’s deck, porch, fascia, roof eaves, or soffit. They prefer unstained and unpainted wood for their nest tunnels. Like carpenter ants, they are not eating the wood, just boring inside for shelter. Carpenter bees will actually use the same tunnels multiple years in a row. They might even expand and take out a bigger chunk of your home. 

If you see the signs or have identified the presence of these pests, you need to get rid of them before they do more damage. 

3 get rid of

3) How to Get Rid of Wood Destroying Insects

You cannot let WDIs feel at home in your house. If you have even one or two, you could be sending an invitation to the neighborhood that your home is the place to be. You need to send them on their way. Wood destroying insects can cause a lot of problems, including:

  • They can, of course, cause significant damage to your home’s walls, flooring, molding, steps, and other surfaces.
  • The damage they cause can hurt your home’s appraisal if you choose to sell. 
  • Their presence can block the sale of your property or lead to buyers backing out of the contract. 
  • They can hurt your home’s property value. 

If you have had WDIs, you may end up needing a WDI report. We explain more about WDIRs here.

This is a report that only qualified inspectors may execute. It is completed, by law, on all residential and commercial properties being sold or refinanced. It takes special note of any signs of visible infestation by wood-destroying insects, including:

  • Subterranean termites
  • Powder post beetles
  • Old house borers
  • Carpenter ants
  • Carpenter bees

The best thing you can do is have wood destroying insects exterminated as soon as possible. While there are some DIY methods with a pest that can do so much damage in such a short time, you need to bring in the professionals

Once you have exterminated them, you will want to take steps to prevent them from returning. 

4 prevent

4) How to Prevent Wood Destroying Insects

You probably didn’t mean to invite termites, carpenter ants, or carpenter bees to your home, but there are some things you might have done to inadvertently welcome them to your property. Here are some steps to take to make sure they get the message that you don’t want them around:

Eleven Steps to Prevent Wood Destroying Insects from Coming to Your Home

  1. Repair water damage and replace any rotting wood. 
  2. Dehumidify your basement, crawlspace, and attic. 
  3. Add paint and stain to outdoor wood surfaces. 
  4. Repair any leaking pipes or drainage issues contributing to excess moisture in and around your home. 
  5. Move firewood piles away from your home or shed. 
  6. Seal entry points for termites and ants. Replace worn-out weather stripping. 
  7. Do not put mulch or pine needles adjacent to your foundation. Keep at least fifteen inches of space between garden bedding and your home. 
  8. Keep your grass mowed short near your home.
  9. Trim your bushes and shrubbery such that there are at least 18-inches of clearance between plants and your house. 
  10. Have your professional exterminator help you with preventative measures. 
  11. Consider crawl space encapsulation

If you have even the smallest sign WDIs are present in your home, you need to get in touch with the professional extermination team at RID-A-Bug Extermination. We have decades of experience controlling pest problems throughout the Carolinas and Virginia. 

When it comes to responding quickly, we can usually take care of your termite, carpenter ant, or carpenter bee problem within 24-hours of your call. 

Contact us today to protect your home from wood-destroying insects