Protecting your dock from erosion and bad weather is essential. But did you know there could be another, more destructive problem attacking your dock's pilings right now? Wood boring worms called shipworms are water-dwelling animals that eat the wood of dock pilings. You can't get rid of shipworms with pesticides or by simply removing them. However, a marine contractor can kill the wood boring worms for you by repairing and securing your dock's pilings with a protective PVC material. Here are things you need to know about shipworms, and why it's critical you contact a marine contractor to take care of the problem for you.
What Are Shipworms?
Wood boring worms or shipworms aren't true insects. In fact, they come from the mollusk family and live in the salt water surrounding your dock. Although shipworms eat wood as a food source, the pests can't survive without water. Like many other marine life, the worms use gills to breathe oxygen through water.
Most marine contractors refer to these pests as sea termites because of their destructive nature. Once shipworms find your dock's pilings, they burrow through the wood until there's nothing left. This can be very dangerous for anyone standing on the dock — especially if it collapses into the water.
You can look for signs that you have a shipworm problem in your dock's pilings. This is the first step to protecting your dock.
How Do You Know If You Have Shipworms on the Pilings?
To make sure you have shipworms in your pilings, you'll need to physically enter the water to find them. The worms are not easily seen from a distance due to their small sizes. Once you enter the water, look for 1/16-inch round holes along the bottom half of your pilings. The holes will be located near or below the water's surface.
If you have a large infestation in your pilings, you'll see large groups of shipworms attached to the pilings. Although the worms are light in color, the pests look black or dark when wet.
Although you can't see them, the holes in the pilings contain the larvae of shipworms. Even if you brush off the adults, the larvae still endanger the structural safety of your dock and pilings. You'll need a marine contractor's help to stabilize and secure your pilings from the adult wood boring worms and their young.
What's the Most Effective Treatment for Shipworms?
You can try to get rid of the shipworms yourself by applying creosote to the wood of the pilings. However, creosote is generally ineffective in getting rid of your problem permanently. In addition, creosote isn't safe for humans or the animals living in the water around your dock.
Your marine contractor can solve your shipworm problem and repair the dock in two steps:
Cover the Pilings in PVC Jackets
The first step requires the contractor to encase the entire bottom halves of the pilings in waterproof PVC jackets. PVC jackets prevent water from touching or penetrating the wood of your dock's pilings. As a result, the adult shipworms and their larvae die from the lack of oxygenated water.
Your contractor doesn't have to remove the adult shipworms or larvae once they die. The pests no longer threaten your dock. But if the pilings sustained a lot of damage, the contractor can install new pilings to replace them.
Reinforce the Pilings With Cement
The last step requires the marine contractor to reinforce the bases of the pilings with cement. Cement is a construction material that keep the dock upright during storms, low tide, or some other critical issue. If the pilings are very weak at the bottom, the contractor may place wires and bars around the pilings to help strengthen them.
After the marine contractors take care of your damaged pilings, have your dock and pilings inspected by the marine contractor every year, or as recommended by the contractor.
If you have questions about shipworm damage and your pilings, contact your marine contractor for more details.