Scariest Deck Destroying Insects – And How to Fight Them Off

Lurking in the corners, crevices and underbelly of your deck could be something so frightening it makes the things under your bed seem inviting. These are the wood killer insects that might be haunting your deck as you read this post.

Woman Screaming

Carpenter Ants

Here in Texas there are 14 different types of carpenter ants. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood. Instead they burrow into it creating channels and nests. They prefer damp wood, which is easier to chew through.

Signs: You’ll see wood shavings and remains of dead ants beneath nest openings. Carpenter ants are large and are black, yellow-red or red and black in color. They may also be winged, which is why some people mistake them for termites.

When to Watch Out for Them: Spring and summer

How to Control: Inspect the deck carefully, identifying any place the ants may be living. Insecticide can be used to get rid of colonies. Once they’re gone fill cracks and crevices with putty and seal the wood. Carpenter ants can be a sign that there is rotting wood or moisture concerns. Take a careful look to see if this situation needs to be remedied as well. Also make sure there is adequate clearance between the soil and the structure.

Acrobat Ants

These tiny, light to dark brown ants are becoming a big problem in Texas. Because they are small, and don’t do quite as much damage as carpenter ants but they can still do serious destruction if left untreated.

Signs: Signs are similar to those of carpenter ants. They like to nest in old galleries created by termites and carpenter ants, so if you had a prior infestation you’re likely to see activity there.

When to Watch Out for Them: Spring and summer

How to Control: The same treatments for carpenter ants can be used for acrobat ants.


Wasps won’t destroy your wood deck, but they will attach themselves to it, chew up wood fiber to make their nests and can be a painful pests. If wasps are flying around people won’t want to spend a lot of time on the deck squatting them away.

Signs: Wasps will build their nests in corners, nooks and overhangs, which is a tale-tale sign that wasps are around.

When to Watch Out for Them: Spring to late summer

How to Control: Getting rid of nests is a must if you want to get rid of wasps. Unlike the other pests listed here, wasps can fight back. So take safety precautions when dealing with wasps. Use an insecticide formulated for wasps that can spray from a good distance. It’s best to attempt removal at night when they are less active. The next day scrape the nest away.


The most dreaded of all wood-devouring insects is the termite. The most common ones found in these parts is the eastern subterranean termites.

Signs: A clear sign is seeing the termites themselves. The two types of termites you’re most likely to see are the swarmers, which are brown or black and could have wings, or the workers, which are creamy white and smaller.

When to Watch Out for Them: Year-round, but high season is March and April in Texas.

How to Control: You’ll need to call a termite control company ASAP. This is definitely a problem that needs to be handled by professionals. Because termites can do a lot of damage in a short period of time, you’ll likely have to replace infested wood.

Lyctid Powderpost Beetles

These very, very small brown beetles can do serious damage to wood. It is the larvae that feed on hardwood, and they could be in the construction material before the deck is built. They live in the wood until they become adults, which can take up to a year outdoors.

Signs: Tiny holes bore into the wood. You may also see fine sawdust that looks like flour.

When to Watch Out for Them: Year-round

How to Control: One of the best ways to keep lyctid powderpost beetles at bay is to apply a finish to the wood. If wood is already infested it’s best to replace it. If it’s an isolated occurrence you could inject insecticide into the wood. Strip the wood, coat it with an insecticide and refinish it if you opt not to replace it altogether.

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