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.
“It would be tough to understate the havoc caused by subterranean termites,” says Bill Cowley, co-owner of Cowleys Pest Services in Neptune City. “Each year, they cause some $5 billion worth of damage to structures in the U.S. That’s more damage to homes than storms, fires, and earthquakes combined.” Cowley says about one in 30 U.S. homes has some level of termite infestation, and that it can take a decade or more for a problem to even be noticed by homeowners or building staff – and by then, significant damage may already have been done.
Wood You Rather
Even with acres of unappetizing (to bugs, anyway) concrete and steel-beam construction, New Jersey condos and HOAs are not immune to wood-chewing pests attacking elements like decks, door frames, and railings – particularly in more suburban neighborhoods and developments. Jeffrey Dworkin, president of Ecology Exterminating Service Corp. in Brooklyn, has been helping remove wood insects from urban and suburban buildings 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.