Since our homes always contain some kind of wood and insects live within and off wood, most homeowners will find bugs at some point. When the bugs are eating through Sheetrock — a brand name for a type of drywall — or plaster, things become confusing, though. How can bugs live off Sheetrock? They can't, but they can eat the wood behind it and lay eggs that leave behind other bugs to keep eating the Sheetrock or wood underneath it.
Termites are the main culprit when you see evidence of bugs eating Sheetrock. Where some insects bore through the Sheetrock, termites will in fact ingest the material in order to get to the wood behind it. Termites are insidious and fast-acting. If you think you have termites, pull away a piece of the Sheetrock and knock on the wood behind it. You'll hear quiet knocking back at you. It's the termites banging their heads against the wood, warning each other of your threat.
Boring beetles are any beetle that bores through wood. Oftentimes, beetles that bore through the Sheetrock are harmless. They appear in newer homes because they have been shipped to your home in wood that wasn't dried or properly stored before construction. This isn't necessarily your developer or builder's fault, by the way. Some beetles can live hidden in wood for several years before tunneling up. Tropical woods are more likely to transport beetles, but don't worry too much about them. Once they leave and can't find any more live wood to infest, they die.
Powderpost beetles are more of a problem than other beetles, because they will reinfest the wood in your home. They, too, tunnel through Sheetrock because they have infested the wood behind it, but they like dead lumber, too. If you see small holes that are surrounded by what appear to be light wood shavings, it's likely you have powderpost beetles. These beetles do not damage the home quickly, so wait to see if the infestation is active or from a previous owner before spending money to exterminate. The solution is costly enough and the beetles proceed slowly enough that's it smart to wait and see. Don't ignore the problem entirely, though — they can do real damage.
Wood wasps also leave holes in Sheetrock. These insects are actually not interested in eating your home at all. Wood wasps deposit eggs in lumber and once the eggs hatch, the larvae can spend up to 10 years working toward the surface of the wood — only to find your Sheetrock. This means you might live in a house for more than a decade before finding evidence of burrowing bugs — but it won't be that big of a deal. The problem with wood wasps is that they leave holes in the wood that are prime new territory for carpenter ants or termites. Seal the holes made by wood wasps thoroughly and immediately.
Rachel Moran started writing in 2003. Her journalism has appeared in "Orange," "Luxury," "Creative Loafing," "tbt*" and other publications. Her fiction has appeared in the "Tampa Review," "Florida Review," "BLOW" and "Pindeldyboz." Her copywriting has served clients from Bayer to Volkswagen. Moran received her Bachelor of Arts in writing from the University of Tampa.