Timber Pests

A Look at Timber Pests in and Around Perth, Western Australia

Western Australia has always been known for having its fair share of pests, including a dizzying array of insect, rodent, and birds that can often make life uncomfortable for many homeowners. While most of those creatures can disrupt lifestyles or even cause minor damage to property, few represent any sort of serious threat to homes. Those that do, however, can wreak the type of damage that can quickly engender thousands of dollars in repair costs. They are known as timber pests, and they pose a very real threat to homes in and around Perth and other areas of Western Australia.


Termites are almost certainly the most well-known timber pests in most places around the world. Present on every continent but Antarctica, as well as most islands and other landmasses, these wood-eating creatures are so destructive that they can destroy a home’s structural integrity in mere months. Subterranean varieties form colonies that can include millions of members, and are particularly adept at finding their way into almost any building they stumble upon.
Once inside, they take up residence within their constructed termite tubes and feast on the timber they find within your home. Because they never venture forth from outside of those tubes – they require the high humidity and heat contained within the structures for their very survival – you have virtually no chance of detecting them by seeing them crawling around the house. Instead they remain undetected, leaving only the telltale signs of their grayish tubes along foundation walls and other entry points.
Homeowners who suspect termite infestation have few options. You cannot rid yourself of these timber pests, and will thus have to contact experts who can comes and assess the situation. Professional pest removers can use technology and other identification methodologies to locate termite colonies, and then rely on interception systems and baiting techniques to lure the insects away from your home’s timber and ultimately eradicate them.
Homeowners in and around Perth are advised to ensure that their homes are properly treated with chemicals and physical barriers to ensure that termites do not have easy access to the structure. Perimeter applications of chemicals can help to ensure that these pests are either diverted away from the home through the use of repellants, or destroyed on contact with the chemical substance. Regular inspections of the home should be conducted each year, to ensure that no infestation has occurred. Remember, a full colony of termites requires only months to ruin the structure of your home!


There’s another type of insect that can also pose a serious risk to your home. Known as the house borer, this creature has a unique way of doing its damage – and it involves a process that can take several years to complete. Adult beetles lay eggs in timber cracks or holes. Those eggs become larvae that then chew their way through the wood over the course of several years. As they feed and grow over time, they mature to the point where they are ready to become adults, and enter a pupa stage. When they complete that, they chew their way out of the timber, emerging in their final, flying adult forms – and begin the process anew.
This, of course, makes them extremely hard to detect, and impossible for the average homeowner to manage. They do leave signs of their presence – holes in wood, dead insects, and so on, but even those can be difficult to locate if you’re not looking for them. Often times, homeowners are not aware of the problem until adults emerge, and by then the damage can already be done.
That means weakened roof timber, floorboards, and wood that makes up tables, chairs, and other furniture. Many a homeowner has put his foot through floorboards that have been utterly destroyed by these creatures – and that results in thousands of dollars in repair costs. The solution always involves calling for a professional exterminator, so that the source of the infestation can be identified and the life cycle of the offending insect broken once and for all.

Chemical Delignification

Though the term is not as well known as some of these other timber pests, the effects of chemical delignification are likely to be recognized by most Perth residents. Almost everyone has seen this effect at work in various structures at one time or another in his or her life. It is caused by the deterioration of the lignin substance contained within all plants, including the trees used to make the wood that is utilized in home and other building construction.
Lignin is the organic substance that makes up much of the space between the cells in timber. It provides the strength and hardness that makes wood such an invaluable construction tool, and is thus considered the glue that helps to keep all those wondrous timber fibers together. The problem is that lignin is not impervious to harm. Various chemicals can create a process that breaks down this organic substance, weakening the bond that holds fibers together. That leads to the process known as chemical delignification, which causes wood to become soft and appear as though it has hair. This is actually the result of those timber fibers separating from one another.
The cause of this effect can be either salt from the sea – carried aloft in the wind and deposited on rooftops miles inland, or chemicals released by pollution from cars and factories. These chemicals attack untreated timber, breaking down the lignin over many years. That leads to structural integrity issues that must be resolved with reconstruction or, in less severe cases, treatment of the affected timber.
Prevention is preferable to reconstruction, and involves painting, oiling, or otherwise sealing the exterior of all timber used in construction to block chemicals from reaching the wood. For more advanced structural damage, however, such sealing is ineffective since the damage works its way to the interior of the wood as well. In those instances, the only option is to replace every affected area of timber with properly protected wood.

Timber Decay 960 x 150

Finally, there is the issue of timber decay fungi around the Perth area. Fungal infections within homes are a more common occurrence than most homeowners might imagine, and they can be every bit as destructive as termites and other pests. They are caused when wood moisture levels rise and exceed 25% of equilibrium by content, as those higher levels of water provide an ideal germinating environment for the fungal spores that get carried along on the wind and deposited on wooden structures.
Whether it is brown rot, white rot, or some other variation of wood-consuming fungus, a colony of these organisms can quickly grow in an affected area of timber and create many of the same effects seen with other timber-attacking creatures and reactions. The wood’s structural integrity comes under direct assault, and cracks, fraying, and weakness can come quickly. In short order, everything from the roof to the floorboards could suffer serious damage, leaving you with thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs.
It is vital to get an expert on the scene as soon as you can, to find the exact cause of your decay, and devise a plan for resolving any issues. While most homeowners understandably desire to save money by examining their own homes, the fact is that this all too often leads to an underestimation of the seriousness of the infestation. It takes a trained eye to determine the exact fungus causing the problem, and only an expert can craft the ideal solution.
Those solutions involve a variety of options tailored to match the nature of the issue. Sometimes, ventilation changes are all that is required to reduce the moisture these organisms need to thrive. Other times, exterior sources of water are the real problem, and the solution involves something outside of the home. Of course, wood treatments are an invaluable part of the process as well. Waterproofing can help to ensure that the infestation removed today does not just make room for a new infestation next week or next year.
Keeping an Eye out for Pests
It is clear that Perth homeowners have much to be concerned about when it comes to pests and destruction of the timber in their homes. Insects like termites and borers are obvious areas of concern, and often receive much of the press that so many people rely upon to stay informed about such things. Thankfully, there are competent and experienced pest professionals who can help those homeowners to rid themselves of those destructive menaces.
At the same time, however, there are other threats facing your home. Airborne chemicals, salt, and fungi can all wreak havoc on the timber in your home, reducing its structural integrity over time, and causing destruction that can be sorely damaging to your financial safety. The good news is that a professional pest control service can provide invaluable assistance in dealing with these problems too, provided that you contact them as soon as you suspect that a problem exists.