When you think of pests that you need to keep away from your horses, your mind may automatically go to those which harm the horse itself. Flies, mites, mosquitoes and ticks can all cause a horse grievance, but they're not the only bugs that equine property managers need to look out for. Aside from pests which bite horses and nest in their skin, there are also pests which prefer the flavour of wood. These bugs can chew through wooden stables at an alarming rate, causing irreparable damage if not removed. Aside from the costs of replacing your structures, you could also face the prospect of your stable collapsing on your horse or allowing it to escape if the wood is weakened by bugs.
Here are 3 of the main stable-eating pests you need to look out for.
Powderpost beetles are proof that something can be small but mighty. These tiny beetles get their name from the way they bore through wood, turning it into a fine, powdery sawdust. While the bugs themselves are often too small to notice, the damage they do is evident from the round exit holes they leave in your stables. While the hole each beetle leaves is small, a large number of holes from an infestation can cause dangerous damage.
Paper wasps are a threat to both your stable and the horses inside. They destroy stables to make their nests, creating pulp from the wood. Once they emerge from their nests, they can become aggressive, stinging every horse and keeper in sight. While their bites aren't dangerous to those who aren't allergic, that can cause pain, inflammation and itching for both you and your horses. They can be more dangerous to younger or older horses, who may be more frail.
Perhaps the best known of all wood-eating pests is the termite. Termites eat through stable wood as a food source. They can nest on the wood itself, or in mounds on the ground, and can form colonies of thousands to millions of bugs. This allows them to eat through wood at an alarming rate. If they're not dealt with early, they can cause structural damage to your stables that's dangerous and irreparable.
What Can You Do?
The best way to deal with wood-eating pests is to take steps to prevent them, and treat them early if you do find them. Pests are less likely to attempt to infest 'finished' (painted, varnished, or sealed), dry wood, so avoid using bare wood and keep your moisture levels in your stable to a minimum. Inspect your stable posts and doors for telltale signs of pests regularly. The common signs of powderpost beetles are small holes in the wood or powder on the surface. Paper wasp nests are usually found in the eaves of a barn or stable.
If you do find pests in your stables, you'll need to have them professionally removed. Home chemical treatments can be harmful to horses if ingested or inhaled, so make sure you find a pest control specialist who is experienced in killing the bugs safely.