Each year, wood-destroying organisms (WDOs) such as termites, carpenter ants, and wood-burrowing beetles cause billions of dollars in damage to homes and buildings across the United States. Not only can this be a huge headache for homeowners everywhere, but these pests can also be difficult to get rid of once they have started destroying a home.

That’s why our home protection plans include treatment options to control termites and other WDOs before they reach your property.

For homeowners without active protection, educating yourself on common WDOs in Maryland is your best defense against these pesky creatures.

This article discusses the five most common types of WDOs you may find in your home and how to prevent them from destroying your property and peace of mind.

The Risks of Wood-Destroying Organisms (WDO)

Wood-destroying organisms, or WDOs, are classified as any organism that impacts the structural integrity of wood. These organisms can be especially devastating to homeowners, as decks, porches, and even homes themselves can be structurally damaged beyond repair. Wood-destroying organisms can cost homeowners hundreds and even thousands of dollars in repairs and even more money on pest control maintenance to prevent them from coming back in the future.

Over time, these creatures can weaken the structural integrity of your home and make it unsafe or even condemned.

5 Common Types of Wood-Eating Insects in Maryland

To prevent WDOs from wreaking havoc on your home, you need to know which ones are common in Maryland and ways to prevent them.

1. Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites are some of the most common wood-eating insects in the northeast. These WDOs live underground and eat through wood due to a special bacteria in their gut that makes them able to easily break down cellulose fibers. Subterranean termites are extremely destructive and can cause significant damage to the structure of a home within just a few years, making them one of the most feared household pests for homeowners everywhere. Understanding the signs of termites in your home will allow you to identify an infestation and act quickly to prevent further damage.

2. Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are less common than subterranean termites in Maryland but can still be just as destructive. Drywood termites feed on cellulose, but unlike subterranean termites, they eat across the grain of wood rather than soft, moist wood. Drywood termites live above ground, thrive in dry hardwood, and do not need to be in contact with soil.

3. Carpenter Ants

While seeing ants usually isn’t alarming to most homeowners compared to other types of pests, carpenter ants can be incredibly destructive. These large black ants excavate wood to create tunnels and build their nests inside. This can cause a lot of damage to the wood in homes and even compromise a home’s structural integrity in severe cases.

4. Wood-Boring Beetles

Wood-boring beetles are beetles that eat and destroy wood, both in larvae and adult forms. Wood-boring beetles are not as commonly considered a destructive household pest compared to termites, but they can cause just as much structural damage to a home if left untreated. There are several different types of wood-boring beetles, including powderpost beetles, ambrosia beetles, and deathwatch beetles.

5. Carpenter Bees

These native pollinators to Maryland are distinguished by their round, black abdomens and their preference for burrowing into wood for shelter. While carpenter bees don’t sting, they can be pretty destructive to homes. If left unchecked, a carpenter bee infestation can weaken the integrity of your roof and eaves, warranting repair.

WDO Prevention and Treatment Strategies

When it comes to treating and preventing a wood-destroying organism infestation, there are several general things you can do to prevent them. Tips include:

  • Keeping outdoor wood and lumber off of the ground
  • Storing firewood away from your house.
  • Reducing moisture and humidity in and around your home.
  • Eliminating any easily identifiable nests or mud tubes that run along the side of your home.
  • Cleaning up standing water.
  • Disposing of cardboard and cellulose products.
  • Understanding the signs of a wood-destroying organism infestation so you can act quickly.

How Often Should I Perform an Inspection?

Most pest control professionals will recommend an annual inspection when it comes to preventing wood-destroying organisms. Unless you are dealing with a severe infestation and have had the same pest return repeatedly, a thorough annual inspection should effectively prevent these pests from returning.

However, if you identify any of the following signs of a WDO infestation, get an inspection performed immediately to identify the culprit:

  • Frass or wood shavings around doors, window sills, and outdoor furniture.
  • Hollow-sounding wood that is not a result of moisture contact.
  • Mud tubes that run along the side of your home, garage, or shed.
  • Floors that buckle without an obvious cause of excessive moisture.
  • Small holes in sheds, eaves, or roofs where wood is visible.

When choosing a pest control specialist to perform your inspection, you will want to make sure they are a trusted and reputable name in your community and have a proven track record of treating and preventing wood-destroying organism infestations.

Pest Czar is a QualityPro and GreenPro-certified exterminator specializing in WDO prevention and treatment. We employ a wide range of strategies, including organic pest control and integrated pest management, to eliminate WDOs safely and effectively. Contact us today for a quote on an inspection or if you are interested in the Dentricon termite defense system.


What damage do wood-destroying organisms cause to structures?

Wood-destroying organisms can cause significant damage to homes, including compromising the structural integrity of a home, dry rot, and fungus. This type of damage is extremely dangerous and can cause serious complications for you and your home, so be sure to contact a pest control professional immediately if you suspect WDOs on your property.

How can I identify signs of wood-destroying organism infestation?

There are several signs to look for when trying to identify a WDO infestation, including bubbling or peeling paint, buckling wood, developing wood, and discarded termite wings.

Are wood-destroying organisms dangerous to humans?

While wood-destroying organisms can be extremely destructive to homes and buildings, they are not typically harmful to humans in any way.