What’s Eating My Wooden Fence? Identifying Insect Damage in Wood Fencing

Wooden fences are a classic, timeless fence option that are popular among homeowners and business owners alike. While wooden fences are very sturdy and aesthetically pleasing, however, they must be maintained properly. If not, they can begin to warp, rot, crack, or, the topic of today’s post, become infested with insects. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common critters that damage wood fences, and how to prevent them.


Termites can be found in every U.S. state except Alaska, but they especially prefer the warmth and humidity of the South. These wood-loving pests are not picky about the type of wood they eat; to them, a fence or deck is as good as a tree. The average termite colony will chew through about thirteen pounds of wood in one year, so if you suspect that you have termites in your fence, it’s important to act quickly. If a screwdriver can easily enter the wood without much resistance, it’s time to call an exterminator (and probably a fence repair company).

Carpenter Bees

We’ve already written a little bit about these big buzzy menaces that terrorize wooden structures from East coast to West. Carpenter bees have a life cycle that’s more similar to ours than to honey bees’; the kids grow up, find a mate, and move into a private home, no Queen or hive involved. Carpenter bees chew perfectly round tunnels in wooden fences, trees, and other wooden structures, often leaving tiny piles of sawdust beneath them (really). Each pair of bees will dig one tunnel, so if you see multiple holes, that means you have multiple bees.

Powderpost Beetles

The term “powderpost beetle” applies to about 70 different types of wood-boring beetles, all tending to be narrow, elongated, and reddish-brown or black. They leave tiny holes in wood the size of a pin head, with small piles of talc-like sawdust beneath them. If you see these symptoms around your fence or deck, you may need to control the infestation, and replace the sections of the fence that have been damaged.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants can easily be distinguished from other types of ants by their size. They are usually around half an inch long, and are either brown or black. Unlike termites and wood-boring beetles, carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood; they simply chew it up and build their nests inside it.

How to Stop Insects from Destroying a Wooden Fence

All of these insects have one thing in common: they prefer wood that hasn’t been painted or pressure-treated. (Wood that has been stained is a toss-up; some insects will chew through it anyway). Therefore, the easiest method of prevention is painting your fence. If the fence has already been damaged beyond repair, be sure to replace it with pressure-treated material. You can also choose a metal or vinyl fence replacement, both of which are insect-resistant.

Insects also prefer moist, soft, water-damaged wood that is easy to chew—so it’s important to schedule annual fence maintenance! Making small, easy repairs to damaged wood can minimize the chance of needing an expensive replacement in the future. If you’d like to learn more about fence installation, fence replacement, or fence maintenance services in Charlotte, please contact us here.