What Are ‘Structural Insect Pests,’ And Which Species Of Wood-Destroying Pests Are Most Common In Ventura Country?

There exists numerous families of insects from a variety of orders that are well known indoor pests. Such pests include cockroaches, silverfish, crickets, flies, termites, wood-boring beetles, ants, and even bloodsucking parasites. Ventura County is located in a geographic region where a number of pests from all of the above named groups thrive. The most common of the county’s insect pests include American and German cockroaches, subterranean and drywood termites, house and fruit flies, deathwatch and lyctus beetles, Argentine and Tawny crazy ants, and of course, mosquitoes and bed bugs. Most of these insects are “structural pests,” that is, they’re pests that either damage occupied structures, or pose a medical veterinary threat. 

Unsurprisingly, structural pests are the most economically costly of all types of pests due to the billions of dollars in property damage and medical costs associated with their activity within or on the exterior of structures. Examples include species like the western subterranean termite and the western drywood termite, both of which inflict hundreds of millions of dollars in structural damage to homes and buildings in California annually. Carpenter ants are also common pests of structural wood, and while homes and buildings in the east account for the majority of structures damaged by carpenter ants each year, the second most destructive carpenter ant pest species in the country, the western black carpenter ant, is abundant in Ventura County. 

Western deathwatch and western lyctus beetles are the two most destructive wood-boring beetle species in southern California’s coastal counties, and damage is inflicted by larvae that excavate tunnels within structural wood. Unlike carpenter ants that merely nest in wood, these two wood-boring beetle pests consume starches in structural timbers, and infestations are indicated by the presence of small piles of powdery sawdust known as frass on flooring. Frass is the excavated wood-waste that the beetle pests discard through “kick-out holes” that can be seen on the surface of infested wood members. The presence of frass piles is the most common indicator of carpenter ant and drywood termite infestations as well.

Have you ever discovered frass in your home?

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