Common Fence Pests

common fence pets

Most people aren’t a fan of bugs. You may already be cringing thinking about their creepy-crawly nature. If you dislike bugs, the most common fence pests will give you the creeps. That’s part of why you’ll want to be on the lookout for them, and get rid of them as early as possible. The last thing you want is a termite infestation eating through your wooden fence. Termites do an average of 5 billion dollars worth of damage in the U.S. every year. That’s not even touching damages done by carpenter ants or bees. Depending on where you and your wood fence are located, that fence may end up fighting for its life against common pests.

Even though we don’t offer wooden fencing here at Northland, our 15+ years of experience in the fencing industry gives us the knowledge we need to help our community. We understand how common wooden fencing is and still want to offer our community guidance when they need it. Let’s talk about the most common pests wood fencing will face, and some that will bother other types of fencing, too.

identifying pests that damage fences

The Usual Suspects: Common Wooden Fence Pests

Wood is the problem child of fencing materials. While treated wood comes with less of a likelihood of an infestation of the following pests, you’re never completely safe. If you have a wood fence, you’ll want to watch out for termites, carpenter ants, wood-boring beetles, carpenter bees, and more.


Termites are a nightmare scenario for anything involving wood, whether it's homes, decks, or wooden fences. These insects resemble ants but are set apart from them by their whiter color. Termite-infested wood usually appears fine on the outside, but you can tell termites have been at work if you tap on it and it sounds hollow, or worse, crumbles altogether.

Termites don’t just live in and consume the wood we build with. Termite infestations usually come from colonies in dead tree stumps or roots, and get to your fence through the soil. Some termites also fly during a certain part of their life cycle. Flying termites are the ones that search for a new place to start a colony – the termite equivalent of a “queen ant,” you could say. 

If you notice any strange dirt patches on your fence, this could also indicate a termite problem. Termites don’t like feeling a draft, so they’ll patch up any areas that let in airflow with mud to prevent it.

If you think you have a termite problem, it’s not something you want to deal with on your own. It’s best to call professional pest control to root out the issue and make sure it doesn’t spread anywhere else, like to your home.

Carpenter Ants

While carpenter ants don’t feast on wood, they do burrow through it to make nests. You’ll know these little guys are around if you see wood shavings on the ground by your fence. 

They find their way in through rotting wood, so make sure to stay on top of any rotting or water-damaged areas of your fence. Otherwise, you might end up with a carpenter ant problem. You can deal with these on your own by spraying aerosol insecticide in the holes and using insecticide baits for any other lingering ants, but we’d still recommend contacting an exterminator to make sure the job is done.

Wood-Boring Powderpost Beetles

Untreated wood is ripe grounds for a powderpost beetle infestation. These bugs bore into wood and lay eggs. The hatched larvae feed on the wood inside your fence and can stay there for a long time as they grow up. Once they become adult beetles they can leave your fence, fly away, and cause destruction somewhere else.

These bugs get their name because you can spot them by the fine powder they leave by the holes in the wood they exit from. If you notice the powder, tiny holes in your fence, or both, you probably have powderpost beetles on your hands.

Carpenter Bees and Horntail Wasps

You probably already know what a carpenter bee looks like, and if you don’t, you’ve probably seen one. These bees are pretty big and look a lot like your fuzzy yellow and brown best friend the bumblebee, but they have smooth abdomens and are browner. These bees don’t mean any harm, but they still do damage via big holes in wood. It may come as a surprise that despite the big holes, they usually cause minimal damage. The real issue comes with fungi and other rot that the holes can lead to. If you see carpenter bee holes, it’s best to seal them up as soon as you can.

Mold, Moss, Lichen, and Fungi

All of these plants and fungi pose their own problems for a wooden fence. Lichen and moss tend to grow on untreated wood fencing, especially in damp environments, and can cause the fence to deteriorate. Wood that is pressure treated or sanded and stained is less likely to grow mold, but otherwise, that’s a possibility too, leading to additional problems and general grossness.

To remove any of these pests, combine half a cup of vinegar for every gallon of water, and apply that to your fence. You’ll want to let it soak for 15 minutes, and then wipe away all the varying grime.

Common Vinyl, Chainlink, and Wrought Iron Fence Pests: They Aren’t Immune

While vinyl,wrought iron, or chain link fencing run into much less trouble than wooden fencing, they can still have problems with pests. Thankfully, these pests usually won’t do irreversible damage to your fence.

Hornets and Bees

You won’t have any carpenter bees drilling holes in your vinyl fencing, but bees and hornets can still use your vinyl, chainlink, or wrought iron fence as a place to start up a nest. This is especially true if you have a vinyl fence with cracks in it; pests will be happy to take advantage of that and build a home inside the posts. 

You can use bee and wasp spray to get rid of hornets and bees taking over your fence. Make sure to enlist professional help if the nests have reached a substantial size as trying to handle it on your own is dangerous.

Raccoons and Squirrels

No matter where you live, you can bet your yard is the stomping ground of some raccoons and squirrels. While these critters rarely munch on fences, they can mess things up by jumping and climbing on top of the fence. This is especially true if your fence has any weak spots. If you’re unlucky, the world’s largest raccoon could climb over your weak fence and break the thing entirely.

Of course, that’s a relatively unlikely situation, but you’ll want to keep an eye on your fence and any mammals that may decide to make it their playground just in case. If you fix any weak spots in your fence before an animal can take advantage of them, you’ll be set. Calling animal control is an option if you have any continuing problems with critters, too.

solutions for common fence pest problems

Pest Removal and Solutions in Minnesota for a Long-Lasting Fence

After reading all of this, you may be thinking, “Wow, a wooden fence sounds like way more trouble than it’s worth.” Some people are perfectly happy with their wooden fencing, but at Northland Fence, we’re a big fan of vinyl, chainlink, and ornamental fencing. Sure, they can run into some problems too, but they aren’t subject to the same levels of rot and wood-eating and wood-boring insects as wooden fencing is. Pest control isn’t in our job description, so we can’t take care of that for you. We can replace a wooden fence that was overwhelmed by pests, or build a new fence for your yard that will stay sturdy for years, though.

Northland Fence has been family-owned and family-focused since 2004. We know that sometimes even the highest quality fences run into problems. That’s why we offer a 10-year labor warranty and a 15-year material warranty on all of our fencing. We offer a lifetime warranty on vinyl because we want you and your family to enjoy a fence you’re happy with for decades, not just years. Give us a call at 763-316-4881 today to get started.


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