The Massachusetts Statehouse is one of the most significant historical structures that exists within the United States. In addition to being the first structure to serve as the seat of the state government back in 1776, the “Old Statehouse” has since become notable for its prominent golden dome, which is now a feature of most statehouses in the country. When first constructed, the dome was made of wood, which caused rainwater to leak into the building. Paul Revere was called upon to correct this problem, and he did so by applying a copper sheathing around the dome to prevent water saturation. This copper barrier was later aesthetically enhanced with the application of a 24 karat gold sheathing, which remains on the structure to this day. However, the influential dome never would have come into existence had it not been for the problematic insect pest species that is now commonly known as the old house borer.
Old house borers are beetles that bore into structural timbers, such as pine, spruce and other coniferous types of wood. These insects first arrived in America via wooden ships that departed from Europe centuries ago. These beetles ate into the structural wood on these ships, causing significant leaks. In response to this problem, a young Paul Revere applied copper sheathing to the bottom part of these ships in order to block old house borer larvae from damaging the hull. It was this experience that Revere drew upon when developing his architectural solution to the Old Statehouse rainwater leaks.
Old house borer infestations within a home’s structural wood are almost never noticed until around 7 to 10 years after construction is completed. This is because adult females place their eggs into the crevices of structural timber before or during a home’s construction. After the eggs hatch, larvae bore tunnels through the structural timber, causing structural weakness and occasional collapses. Adult females also place their eggs into finished wood products, but this is less common, as adults cannot easily locate open crevices on varnished or treated lumber. In some infestation cases, the larvae chewing produces a clicking sound that can be audible to homeowners. Naturally, eradicating larvae from infested structures is difficult, which is why structural timbers are usually treated to prevent adults from depositing their eggs into lumber products. However, professional fumigations are known to be effective at controlling wood-boring beetle infestations.
Have you ever experienced a wood-boring beetle infestation within your home?