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Why are There Holes in My Fence?

If you own a wooden fence, and it develops holes, you probably have an unwanted pest. Certain insects are notorious for ruining fencing. We will explore some of these pests and how to deal with them, and also examine other causes of holes, and materials that resist their formation.


Termites pose the most significant threat to anything made of wood. They dig holes in wood, and consume it. They get deep into wood and undermine its structural integrity. If you notice holes all around your fence, or if it seems shoddy or weak, you may have termites. A fencing professional or a pest control serviceman can provide a firm diagnosis. They can also provide suggestions for protecting your home and the rest of your fence. Remember: With termites, the stakes are high. If they get inside your house, you may end up with a severe (and expensive) problem.

What makes termites remarkable is how fast they can render wood useless. The best cure is prevention, with an effective wood treatment product. If you take too long to notice the problem, you will have to replace pieces, if not whole sections. You will also have to treat your repaired fence to avoid further problems.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are larger, and resemble bumblebees. They can tunnel into wood, making large round holes. If water and/or fungi starts to grow inside these holes, it can cause your fence to rot. So, you can rectify this problem by cleaning out the holes and sealing them when you first notice them.

Carpenter Ants

Certain species of ants that are large and black or reddish-black in color can burrow into wood. They tend to favor wood that is softer, older, damp, or slightly rotten. When you own a wooden fence, they may be attracted to it, especially if it’s moist from the rain.

If carpenter ants take an interest in your fence, there is little point in removing the colony. Carpenter ants often have satellite colonies in an area, so you really are better off treating the wood. You will have to examine each piece of wood to determine whether the damage is significant enough to warrant replacement. Once your entire repaired fence has been treated, the ants should leave it alone.

Powderpost Beetles (and similar species)

These beetles destroy more wood than any other insect besides termites. Because many people who buy and sell wood are unfamiliar with their behavior, misdiagnosis of their damage happens often. They bore tiny holes into the surface of untreated wood, and lay eggs in the tunnels they leave inside. The adults and larvae then burrow their way out. Their tunneling leaves behind a powder resembling sawdust.

Once you treat your fence with a preservative, any remaining beetles should be dead, and none should return. Whether you replace your fencing will depend on two questions: Have the beetles compromised the structural integrity of the fence? Or have they ruined your fence’s aesthetic appeal? In most cases, the answer should be no. But it’s your opinion that counts.

Although most beetle species will do no harm to wood, the few that do can cause a lot of damage. Death Watch Beetles, Ambrosia Beetles, Spider Beetles, Common Furniture Beetles, Skin Beetles, and Old House Borer Beetles all cause damage. Like the Powderpost, they dig into the wood and lay eggs inside. As the larvae mature, they burrow tunnels all throughout the wood before exiting as pupae. The aftermath and diagnosis are similar to that of the powderpost beetle. So is the recommended treatment.

Horntail Wasp

These wasps are not a common problem for fences, as they tend to burrow into trees to lay their eggs. Their life cycle involves larvae that live inside a tree until they are about to pupate. At that point, they crawl to just under the bark to complete their transformation. Typically they will leave lumber alone. But, it’s not uncommon for dormant eggs in a felled tree to make it all the way to your fence.

A bit of a misnomer, “horntails” are not really wasps, as they lack a stinger. They are relatively easy to displace, and then you can fill the fence holes with some kind of sealant. The key is to clean the holes, as water can get into them and create fungus.

Further Considerations

If you sense a common theme with these insects, you are correct. One can prevent just about any infestation with a potent wood treatment. However, investigate whether you’ll have to apply more every few years if it can weaken with time. Also, if you decide not to replace a plank with holes, clean and seal each hole. This will prevent fungus and mold growth, which can destroy your fence.

Your Fence Experts

At All Counties Fence & Supply, we provide Riverside and San Bernardino Counties with top-tier fence installation. Whether you have an issue with an existing fence and need expert advice, or need a brand new one installed, we’re here for you. Give us a call today!


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I can’t say enough about All Counties Fence & Supply!!! Chris new I needed a fence right away for the security of my dogs and he made sure the waiting time was minimum. The job from start to finish was A++++++++++++++++++++++++++ quality, cleanliness, on time and a bunch a very professional workers. I’m so happy that we went with this company that was highly recommended by a close friend!!!! Our fence looks amazing and we are so happy. Thank you!!