The A to Z of Pests in Melbourne. Part 2.
Although we specialise in bees and wasps at Ben’s Bees, we thought it would be worthwhile producing a short series of articles on the common pests that can be found around Melbourne. We love bees, and service the entire Melbourne area, so we’re happy to help if they become a nuisance on your property. This second instalment of ‘Pests in Melbourne’ features two small types of insects that can be a real problem inside the home. It may be advisable to contact an experienced pest controller, especially if treatment requires the use of chemicals.
Borers are a group of beetles in which the larval stages can cause serious damage, attacking both structural timber and furniture, and may be introduced to your home along with old furniture. All boring beetles have a similar life cycle, although this may take between one and four or more years to complete. Eggs are laid in wood, generally in warmer weather, and the larvae complete their development, feeding upon starch and other nutrients and tunnelling in the timber. They then pupate to emerge as adults, often in spring.
Tiny piles of sawdust are a sign of fresh borer activity. Emergence holes (of adults) may also signal the presence of borers, but could be old and therefore no cause for concern. Mark any existing holes so that you can check for new ones. You should be aware that some borers cause only superficial damage, while others are far more destructive. For example, the Pinhole Borer (Platypus australis) is a native ambrosia beetle that causes little harm because it feeds upon living or recently-felled timber. If you’re wondering about the scientific name, ‘platypus’ simply means ‘flat footed’, and its use predates the discovery of the famous native Australian mammal that is also called the Duck-billed Platypus and goes by the scientific name of Ornithorhynchus anatinus, which means ‘duck-like bird nose’.
The Dampwood Borer, or Australian Wood Borer, and the Wood Weevil (Pentarthrum australe) are native species that usually only damage moist or rotting timber – often in the subfloors of buildings, while longicorns and auger beetles generally attack living trees, and do not result in serious damage. The Lyctus Borer, or Powder Post Beetle, is an introduced species that feeds on sapwood and does not cause structural damage, while the Wood-boring Weevil (Pentaminus rhyncoliformis) attacks softwoods and may result in serious loss of integrity. The Furniture Beetle (Anobium unctatum) is also found around Melbourne, and is an introduced pest that will cause serious damage to softwoods and is often found in Baltic Pine
If you believe you have a borer problem in the Melbourne area, you should seek professional help, because positive identification of the pest species is important in determining the treatment –if any – required.. This may consist of chemical preparations, fumigation and a variety of measures to increase ventilation.
There are two related species of clothes moths in Melbourne; the Webbing or Common Clothes Moth, which originated in western Europe and Asia, and the Case-making Clothes Moth, which is found around the world. Both larvae and adults (which are about 1cm in length) are similar in appearance, although the larvae of the Case-making Clothes Moth are
protected by a silken case, while those of the Common Clothes Moth may spin mats of webbing under which to hide.
Clothes moths are a serious pest. The larvae love natural fibres and can digest the protein in wool and silk; they will also damage fur and leather. Adults are poor flyers and do not eat at all. Both species of clothes moths prefer darkened areas, and besides clothing will also target rugs, upholstery and curtains. In Australia, clothes moths prefer the humid coastal fringe. Webbing Clothes Moths are more common in Melbourne, as Case-making Clothes Moths prefer a warmer climate.
An infestation of clothes moths is often first noticed as holes or bare patches in clothes or other materials. Adults may also be apparent in closets. A number of simple control measures can be adopted. Dry cleaning will kill the moths, as will heat (clothing can be placed in a plastic bag in the sun or in a hot car). Moth traps can be used, as well as lavender oil and camphor. Various insecticides may also be employed, however some are toxic to humans and pets – mothball vapours can be carcinogenic. A professional pest controller may use inert gas, which is a very safe way of asphyxiating the insects.
Reinfestation can be avoided by regular vacuuming and storing clothes in airtight bags.
For Bee and wasp removal in Melbourne please call ben on 0437077792