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Borers

Other Timber Pests

Australia hosts numerous species of wood borers, most of which have little impact on our homes and business premises.   Basically there are 2 major kinds of borers, the distinction is based on the preference for certain types of timber, especially moisture content.

Pests of Living Trees and Fresh Logs (Green Wood)

  • Wood Moths attack growing trees and so are true forest pests,  Damage from larvae is mostly detected during milling.
  • Woodwasps are also forest pests and not native to Australia, but have been found in Australia.  Damage may be detected by emergence holes in timber, but no treatment is necessary as these pests do not reinfest sawn timbers.
  • Greenwood Longicorns are pests of forest trees and freshly felled logs.  Their damage is often carried over into buildings.  The beetles can emerge from timber up to 6 months after milling; and when the timber containing larvae or paupae is used in buildings and covered with gyprock or other wall linings, they emerge through large oval holes, causing great concern to property owners.  These borers do not reinfest dry timber so no treatment is necessary.
    Read about one of these pests - the Yellow Longicorn...
  • Ambrosia Beetles (Pinhole borers) attack green (fresh) logs.  They leave stained holes which can degrade the appearance of the timber, but rarely does their presence affect the strength of the timber.  The will not reinfest seasoned timbers.

Pests of Dry Seasoned Wood

These borers are more common pest of timber in service.  Treatment of some of these borers is possible, howver in most cases timber replacement with suitably resistant timbers is the best option when damage is extensive.

  • Lyctid Borer (Powderpost Beetle)  are pests of hardwoods timbers and attack the sapwood sections of the timber only.  They produce a produce a very fine powdery dust, similar in consistency to talc powder.  They readily re-infest the timber again, so timber with high sapwood content can be structurally weakened.  This species usually attacks in the first six to twelve months of the service life of timber. It is not considered a significant pest of timber and treatment of infestation is not usually required. In most cases it will attack only the sapwood of certain hardwoods. In large dimensional timbers (such as rafters, bearers and joists) the attack seldom significantly weakens the timber enough to cause collapse. In small-dimensional timbers (such as tiling and ceiling battens) the sapwood may be extensive, and its destruction may cause collapse. This may require the support or replacement of the affected battens. Recommendations require that any structural timbers used have a maximum allowable sapwood content of 25%.
  • Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum)  These borers prefer cooler, humid conditions. their 'frass' is a lot more gritty and course thatn the Lyctid borer.  The attack from this species is encounted usually to pine timbers, mostly to flooring, wall paneling and furniture that has been in service for a number of years. It is seldom encountered in areas of high temperature such as roof voids and some species of pine and hardwoods have shown resistance to attack from this borer. The occurrence of attack from this species is mainly in coastal areas of high humidity and more even temperatures. Sustained attack to drier areas is rare and in most cases involves the transportation of attacked timber into these areas. In the case where attack of this borer has occurred it must always be assumed that the area is still active unless proof of treatment is provided. It is impossible to determine conclusively if activity has ceased unless the affected timber is broken up. It is often difficult to determine to what extent the borer has damaged and weakened affected timbers. It is recommended that a competent inspection by a structural engineer, architect, building consultant or a qualified and licensed building contractor be obtained as soon as possibleto determine the extent of any damage. Chemical treatment for this borer is possible in some cases, however timber replacement is the best option if the timber is too badly damaged. 
  • Queensland Pine Beetle (Calymmaderus incisus) has very similar characteristics to the Furniture Beetle.   They are are commonly found in Queensland and the northern coast of New South Wales.  Attack to timber in dark sub-floor areas is common with this borer. They have a preference for softwood timbers such as Hoop pine. In the case where attack of this borer has occurred it must always be assumed that the area is still active unless proof of treatment is provided. It is impossible to determine conclusively if activity has ceased unless the affected timber is broken up. It is often difficult to determine to what extent the borer has damaged and weakened affected timbers. It is recommended that a competent inspection by a structural engineer, architect, building consultant or a qualified and licensed building contractor be obtained as soon as possible to determine the extent of any damage. Chemical treatment for this borer is possible in some cases, however timber replacement is the best option if the timber is too badly damaged. 

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Acknowledgements:

http://www.csiro.au/resources/WoodBorers.html


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