You recently installed a deck, and you look forward to the barbecues, parties, and lazy summer evenings you'll spend on it.
However, as you've added patio furniture and decor, you've noticed that your deck attracts more than just human occupants. Insects, rodents, and other pests seem to enjoy it too. And you worry that these pests may ruin your deck or make it dangerous or uncomfortable to use.
Don't surrender your deck to these creatures. Instead, identify the animal invader, call a pest control company for removal, and then fortify your deck against further infiltrations. We'll tell you more about this process below.
Identify the Pest
You'll often find these common pests living on, in, or under your deck.
These insects look like smaller, lighter ants, and they all have wings. When they eat through wood, they create tubes about a pencil's width across. They can cause significant structural damage because they will eat through all the materials in your deck. They can also tunnel through foam, plaster, and other materials to reach wood.
2. Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants look like smaller ants-but they grow much bigger. They come in red or black. Like termites, they also bore holes through wood. They don't eat the wood, but they do like to live in it, and they'll soon make your deck look like Swiss cheese. You'll also see small piles of sawdust and dead insects around your deck.
3. Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees don't cause as much damage as carpenter ants or termites, but they do bore holes in your wood or composite deck. The holes will appear about a half inch in diameter, and they'll look perfectly round. These bees bore into wood or wood-like materials to build their nests.
Even though carpenter bees don't cause as much damage as other pests, they do create a stinging hazard, so you should remove them.
4. Powderpost Beetles
You won't likely see these beetles until they fly around lights late at night. They appear reddish brown, with skinny, flat bodies that grow about a quarter inch long. They also leave sawdust behind, and they create pinhead-sized holes. These beetles will also undermine your deck's structural integrity.
5. Mice and Rats
Rodents like to live in or under decks as well. You'll know you have mice or rats because you'll see their small, grayish bodies darting and scurrying. They also leave small, black, pointed droppings behind. And because they have dirty fur, they create grease trails when they rub against your home's surfaces.
These rodents spell disaster for your deck because they chew on the materials and make them weaker. Mice and rats also carry diseases that could endanger your family.
6. Raccoons, Opossums, and Skunks
These larger rodents cause even bigger problems because they tear through deck materials more quickly. They also carry some of the same diseases that mice and rats do, and they will bite and scratch to defend themselves. So if you see cat-like creatures under your deck, call a pest control expert for assistance.
Fortify Your Deck
Now that you know what kind of pest has invaded your deck, you can take steps to remove it and ensure it never returns. Just make sure you don't eradicate the rodent or insect on your own. Ants and bees will attack if you try to spray them, and you may face legal penalties if you accidentally kill rodents like opossums. Leave the pest removal to a professional.
Once you've removed the pest, you can take the following steps to protect your deck:
If you have a wood deck, seal it with a new protective coat, and add a new layer of paint. A well-maintained deck attracts fewer pests than a poorly maintained one.
Trim all plants away from your deck so pests have nowhere to hide.
Remove any standing water around your deck. Your pests need water to survive, and if they can't access it, then they won't want to make a home under your deck.
Cover the gap between the deck and the ground with a mesh screen. This screen deters rodent pests. You can also seal the gap with concrete or plywood if you want a more thorough deterrent. Put yellow bug lights around the deck to keep insect and spider pests away.
Your pest control or deck expert may also have some more tips for you. For example, if you have raccoons, you should use zip ties to seal your garbage cans. If raccoons can't get to the food inside your garbage cans, they'll leave your yard in favor of a location with better access to food sources.
If pests have damaged your deck, get a deck expert to repair and restore it. If you have further questions about keeping your deck comfortable, safe, and pristine, check out the rest of our blog.