Pacific Crest Inspections, was licensed to perform Wood Destroying Organisms Inspections in Washington State. As of 2013 we are no longer performing WDO inspections but as we see infestations we will refer them to a licensed Pest Control Operator.

Do I need a Pest Inspection? NO – In the Pacific NW most banks are not asking for pest clearance certifications in real estate transaction. All current licensed Home Inspectors will look for pests and report them. By law the inspector must recommend that a pest control operator evaluate and treat the home.

Common Issues in Washington State

The most common issue we find in our inspections is wood rot. Wood rot is caused by a fungus and therefore is considered a WDO.

Pest.h8Dry rot is a misnomer, since the fungus that causes wood rot needs moisture to survive. Generally, once the source of moisture is eliminated the wood rot ceases. Generally, removal and replacement of the damaged wood and elimination of the conducive conditions is the best treatment. Wood destroying pests are primarily termites and beetles, but the category of “pests” also include several other insects of less consequence. Wood destroying organisms are categorized as fungi (often times called “dry rot”), and there are several varieties.
During an examination, a home inspector is likely to discover that insects, plants and animals are in residence. Pests and vermin can be discovered anywhere and any time during an inspection. Sellers are often surprised to learn they have been sharing their homes. Timely warning to a buyer of the presence of these unwanted infestations is an important part of a home inspection. Just because you don’t see these pests doesn’t mean they’re not there. Many of these bugs work behind the scenes. They rarely break through the surface of wood, preferring instead to hollow it out. As a result, you might never see them, or any evidence of them, until you discover that serious damage has been done to your home.

anobiidBeetles: There are many species of beetle whose larvae destroy wood. In the Northwest the most common is the Anobiid or Powder Post beetle. They attack hardwoods depositing their eggs. True Powder post beetles breed in dead and dried hardwoods such as the dead branches and limbs of trees. Their presence is overlooked until they are discovered in stored lumber, rafters, joists, finished wood, and furniture products.

Anobiid damage is characterized by: Presence of extremely fine, flour like powder falling from the surface holes. The frass left by other wood borers usually contains pellets, has a course texture and a tendency to stick together. When inspecting damage, be sure to distinguish old damage from active beetle infestations. Recently formed holes and frass(sawdust like) are light in color and clear in appearance….old holes and frass are dark in color. Here is a good article from Washington State University on Anobiid Beetles.

Pest.h2Subterranean Termite The subterranean termite is to be found almost everywhere in the Northern hemisphere because by withdrawing to its underground nest it can survive freezing weather. According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, termites have rarely been found north of Seattle.

The Damp Wood Termite. This termite is not often found inside a properly maintained home. It is more likely to be met with in the woodpile or in other places around the property. Damp wood termites do not make tubes. The immediate cure for an interior infestation by this insect is to remove the source of moisture making the wood inedible and the environment inhospitable.

Pest.h1Pest.h6Carpenter Ants. Owners react with varying degrees of horror to black ants, some as large as 5/8” that roam the house in search of food. Carpenter ants do not follow a chemical trail as do sugar or grease ants. Their nests must be discovered by looking for concentrations of activity, or for preferred locations. Small sources of moisture are particularly sought after. Drips from the plumbing, faulty gutters, porous roofing, defective flashings; all are likely to be attractive. The ants enlarge suitable sites by chewing out the wood. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t eat the wood, they only chew it away to create the tunnels or “galleries” in which they live. They work slowly, but given enough time, carpenter ants can do extensive structural damage.

Most of the time, carpenter ant infestations are treated by a pest control operator, using the “drill and inject” method. Given enough time, carpenter ants can do a lot of damage to a structure. However, the damage is usually isolated. When I find carpenter ants, I look for evidence of structural damage that may need repair if possible, though often this is not possible. In this case, it is necessary to leave investigation for structural damage until after the ants have been eliminated. House Borers A few beetle holes do not severely damage structural members, but over time, enough wood can be destroyed to impair structural strength. Beetle larvae need moisture; therefore if the ambient humidity is decreased, the larvae may be kept from developing. Screening can keep adult beetles out of the house. Females who do gain entry may be discouraged from laying eggs if wood surfaces are sealed with something like paint, varnish, shellac, or linseed oil. Surface applications of poison do not work because laying females do not eat wood, and developing larvae will have made their holes before they reach the poison.

Pest.h4Pest.h7Moisture Ants: Moisture ants will invade homes from nests in the yard while foraging for food. Occasionally, an outdoor colony will relocate inside in the bathroom or kitchen where a water leak is present. This ant often carries soil into the building which it uses to construct a “carton” nest. Carton nests resemble hard clods of soil and may be fashioned around a water pipe or onto a wooden sill plate or wall stud.

Honey Bees. People who know honeybees know they are a blessing, not a pest. Of all the insects to be found around houses, the honeybee is the most maligned. “I’ve just been bitten by a bee!” is the cry, but it is more likely the person was stung by a yellow jacket. Home inspectors may find honeybees in eaves or attics where they have taken advantage of an optimally oriented hollow. Non-aggressive, honeybees are interested only in nectar gathering. If their nest opening and their flight path is above head height, they may not e’en be noticed by the occupants. Older well-established colonies may have stored large quantities of honey and may therefore leave a real mess if they are casually exterminated. Call in a beekeeper, but expect the process to take several weeks if everything is to be removed.

Roaches. German roaches, the little brown bugs that nest in the kitchen, are often carried into a house in cartons from the supermarket. They hide during the day, but come out to feed at night, and can contaminate any food to which they have access. Highly resistant to many insecticides, they are now reportedly controlled by spreading technical grade Boric Acid that, when ingested, interferes with their metabolism. They also appear to be controlled, for now, with newly developed chemicals to which they have not yet become adapted. Cleanliness in the kitchen is an important factor in their control.

Water Bugs, Palmetto Bugs, Cockroaches. These large insects, as much as 2″ long, prefer the dark and the damp. They will eat almost anything. Treat them like their smaller cousins, the German roaches.

Spiders – The Pacific Northwest has its share of spiders and some can bite. Some are yard and garden species, while others are “house” species. Most of the time they are more of a nuisance to the homeowner but before you start killing remember that they are part of the ecosystem. Here are two good sites to help you identify them

Spider identification

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