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Insects Can Take Their Toll

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Critter-containment tactics
Insects Can Take Their Toll

Critter-containment tactics

The necessary measures to kill insects and control or contain insect infestation in wood vary with the type of insect.

For insects that only chew green wood, take away moisture With insects that love green wood, the best protection is getting the wood dry as quickly as possible without degrading it. Always stack wood for air-drying with stickers of dry, uninfested wood. The stickers allow air to circulate between the boards and more quickly dry the exposed surfaces. It's also a good idea to remove all bark (wane) from board edges before seasoning or storing. And kiln-drying over 130 normally kills most insects that like their wood moist.

Insects living off dry hardwoods require special measures Although the primary culprit in this category is the powder-post beetle, there are others. Prevention and eradication methods remain the same, however.

Because powder-post beetles invade only hardwood sapwood, buy boards with the smallest amount (or rip it off) if you plan to store the wood for any length of time in a place where the bugs may enter. That could be a shed or other building subject to the elements.

Pretreating wood surfaces with a borate compound--boron and oxygen--protects against beetle infestation. Mixed in a 10-percent solution with water, the borate should be sprayed or brushed directly on and into the holes of unfinished wood. In infested wood, the larvae and adult beetles die after digesting the treated boards. (You'll find one product--Termite Prufe--at major hardware stores or call 805/565-1566.)

Other post-infestation treatments include fumigation, heating, and freezing (-40 degrees F for days). But for the majority of home woodworkers, they're all relatively impractical.


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