3 Most Common Pests on Wooden Decks
When you built your deck, you probably envisioned relaxing with friends and family, not dealing with annoying or destructive pests. However, termites and other wood-destroying pests cause billions of dollars in structural damage every year, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Whether you have concerns about tiny bugs on your wood deck or a serious termite infestation, learning about common pests and how to get rid of them could save your deck.
1. Tiny Bugs
Insects on decks can cause problems that range from painful bites and stings to serious structural damage. These are some of the most common types to watch out for.
Termites resemble small, light-colored ants with wings. The workers may be a creamy white color. Termites eat wood, creating tubes that are about the width of a pencil. These tubes can cause significant structural damage to your deck.
Early signs of termite damage look similar to water damage. The boards on your deck may appear buckled, squeak, or have small holes in them. You may also notice piles of wings and mud tubes in the ground around your deck. Because termite damage can be difficult to spot before it becomes severe, it is important to regularly inspect your deck so you can catch infestations early.
Carpenter bees range between .25 and 1 inch long and look similar to other bees except they are entirely black with no yellow markings. Carpenter bees bore half-inch holes in wood to build their nests. These perfectly round holes don’t cause as much structural damage as termites, but the bees can be a stinging hazard if allowed to live in your deck.
Carpenter ants are large and may be black, red and black, or yellow. Some carpenter ants have wings. These ants don’t eat wood, but they do live in it and their colonies can contain as many as 50,000 ants.
Because carpenter ants live in such large groups, your deck may have many holes. You may notice piles of sawdust and dead ants if you have an infestation.
These small beetles are reddish brown with skinny, flat bodies that are about .25 inches long. It is rare to see these beetles during the day, but you may notice them flying around lights at night.
Powderpost beetles create pinhead-sized holes that can weaken the structure of your deck. You may notice piles of sawdust if you have an infestation.
If you have tiny gray bugs on your wood deck, they could be wood mites. Wood mites are so small, they are difficult to see. However, you may notice their long body hairs, which they shed frequently. Wood mites feed on the cellulose in wood which may cause structural damage to your deck.
Tiny silver bugs on your wood deck could indicate a springtail infestation. Some people call springtails “winter fleas” because they look and jump like fleas. Springtails are more of a nuisance than a danger. While they live in organic materials, such as leaves, they do not cause damage to wood.
Tiny red bugs on your wood deck could be clover mites. Clover mites are harmless arachnids that are smaller than a pinhead. Clover mites may eat your plants but are not dangerous to pets or people and do not bite.
Mice and rats can weaken the materials of your deck by chewing on them. They also carry diseases that can threaten human health. You may notice rodents scurrying on or under your deck, see their droppings, or spot grease trails from their fur rubbing against surfaces. You may also hear them chewing on your deck.
Raccoons, opossums, and skunks may chew on your deck and because they are much larger than mice and rats, they can cause a lot of damage quickly. Additionally, these animals can carry diseases, such as rabies, and may bite or scratch people and pets when they feel threatened.
How To Eliminate Pests on Your Wood Deck
It is generally best to call a professional to remove pests from your deck. Bees, ants, and wildlife may attack if you attempt to remove or kill them, and some chemical sprays may be harmful to protected wildlife. If you accidentally kill protected animals while trying to eliminate pests, you could face substantial fines.
How To Keep Pests Off Your Deck
Because pests can cause significant damage and be difficult to get rid of, it is best to prevent them from getting on your deck in the first place. Because many pests prefer moist and rotting wood, keeping your deck in good shape can prevent many infestations.
Clean Your Deck
Pests tend to gather where they can find easy sources of food. Clean up any crumbs and spills immediately. Use zip ties to seal garbage cans. Sweep your deck at least once per week to remove dirt, leaves, and debris. Get a professional to power wash your deck at least once per year.
Stain Your Deck
Staining your deck seals the pores in the wood, which makes it harder for wood-boring pests to penetrate. Painting your deck will also provide some protection, but because the paint doesn’t penetrate the pores of the wood, it isn’t as effective.
Use screens to cover gaps between your deck and the ground to keep rodents and other wildlife from moving in. Hanging screens around the perimeter of your deck may also reduce the number of nuisance insects that get on your deck.
Use Insect-Resistant Deck Materials
Materials, such as cedar, Ipe, and mahogany boards, are naturally resistant to pests. You can also purchase lumber that is chemically treated to resist wood-boring insects.
Help With Your Deck Construction or Repair
Whether you are trying to avoid getting tiny bugs on your wood deck or repair the damage from an existing infestation, the experts at Decks & Docks Lumber Company can help. Decks & Docks is a one-stop shop for the materials and advice you need to repair deck damage or purchase pest-resistant deck materials.
Contact us today to find out more.
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Alexis is truly a jack of all trades. She has worked for Decks and Docks for over five years where she served as an Assistant Manager before moving into Outside Sales. Alexis has also helped us open multiple stores along the Eastern Coast of Florida and has acted as Manager at a few locations throughout the years. When she’s not working at Decks and Docks, she’s volunteering at a local animal shelter.