We are often asked to identify the cause of indeterminate damage to wood. How confident are you in your knowledge on beetle damage? Termite damage? Ant damage? Carpenter bee damage? Are you confident in your knowledge of the differences among each of these pests, the damage they cause, and the necessary treatment differences? Can you determine whether the pest is re-infesting?
What about identification of an actual specimen? Could you comfortably identify frass created by arthropod activity? Mold, rot and fungal activity can often look remarkably like insect damage to an untrained eye; are you confident in your identification skills?
Identification is key in making a management plan — and the first step in determining whether a management plan is necessary. Entomologists use high-powered magnification and dichotomous keys to determine a positive identification of specimens. What tools do you have at your disposal? At a minimum, you should keep a magnifying glass or similar tool in your service vehicle to assist you in your efforts. If you are having difficulty making an identification, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local entomologist, extension service or university to assist you.