The term ‘Susa’ in Maltese refers to any insect that in some way or another, in one of its life stages, attacks live or dead wood. In practice the word is not indicative at all as if refereeing to every crawling creature on earth as an insect. Worldwide there thousands of species that generally can be classified as wood borers. Many species, for example solitary bees like carpenter bees, dig holes in dead cane to produce their nest, and their impact is virtually nil. However species like termites can leave devastating effects and bring a whole property in ruins.
The main wood lovers can be classified in two major pest groups:
These are a group of eusocial insects from the family Termitoidae, of the cockroach order Blattodea. While termites are commonly most known, as “white ants”, they are only distantly related to the ants.
As eusocial insects, termites live in colonies that, at maturity, number from several hundred to several million individuals. Colonies use decentralised, self-organised systems of activity guided by swarm intelligence which exploit food sources and environments unavailable to any single insect acting alone. A typical colony contains nymphs (semi-mature young), workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals of both sexes, sometimes containing several egg-laying queens.
Termites are generally grouped according to their feeding behaviour. Thus, the commonly used general groupings are subterranean, soil-feeding, dry-woods, damp-woods, and grass-eating. Of these, the subterranean and dry-woods groups are primarily responsible for the damage done to human-made structures. Owing to their wood-eating habits, many termite species are a burden for unprotected buildings and other wooden structures. Their habit of remaining concealed often results in their presence being undetected until the timbers are severely damaged and exhibit surface changes. Once termites have entered a building, they do not limit themselves to wood; they also damage paper, cloth, carpets, and other cellulosic materials. Particles taken from soft plastics, plaster, rubber, and sealants such as silicone rubber and acrylics are often employed in construction of their nests.
Woodworms or wood borers
Woodworm is a generic description given to the infestation of a wooden item (normally part of a dwelling or the furniture in it) by the wood-eating larvae/grubs of one of many species of beetle and moths.
Signs of woodworm usually consist of holes in the wooden item, with occupied infestations showing powder (faeces) around the holes. The size of the holes varies, but they are typically 1mm to 1.5mm in diameter for the most common household species. Adult beetles which emerged from the wood may also be found in the summer months.
The term wood-boring beetle encompasses many species and families of beetles whose larval or adult forms eat and destroy wood. Larval stages of some are commonly known as woodworms. Moth species tend to be less invasive but several species are known to be host specific to a kind of particular wood.