a tree in front of a house

Home Is Where the Bugs Aren't

​It's an unfortunate fact that absolutely no home is impervious to insect invasion. No matter what materials your house is built with (including homes framed with wood, steel, brick, or a giant block of poured concrete) — critters and pests will find their way inside.

But it's also a fact that some building materials are far more favorable to the gnawing and tunneling that most pests enjoy. So when you look over your home, how can you tell how susceptible it is to a pest invasion?

Start by looking at two factors: the density of a given material, and how protected it is from prolonged moisture exposure.

The Harder to Chew, the Better

Most pests penetrate a home's barriers by either gnawing or burrowing their way inside. As a general rule of thumb, the harder any given material, the fewer the amount of pests that can penetrate it. For example, a brick wall is a more efficient barrier than wood siding. While softer, organic materials like wood are more prone to insect activity, harder materials are not immune. The larder beetle, for example, has absolutely no qualms about burrowing into mortar.

In addition, every house still has joints and crevices pests can use to penetrate the area. When examining the structure, look in the bays of exposed eaves and in the spots where siding meets at corners. Anywhere a raccoon, squirrel, or rodent can squeeze their tiny paws through is a potential entry point into the house. Not surprisingly, most pests prefer dealing with wood, as it's softer and more easily pushed aside. However, a truly determined past can get past any barrier.

Moisture is a Bug's Best Friend

The second element to control for is moisture. When inspecting a traditionally framed house for potential weaknesses, the goal isn't to avoid wood or any other single material, but rather to make sure that the home is properly constructed to shed water and provide a shield against the elements. Insects invade wood framing when it becomes wet and can't dry out, or when it comes into direct contact with the ground. Look for water stains and other telltale signs of moisture on wood or mortar. Materials that aren't able to dry out are materials that are prone to weakening.