Mould and stem fungi, confined mainly to sapwoods, cause discoloration, increase the absorptiveness of the wood and reduce its strength. In the USA these fungi cause average annual losses of about US$ 10 million. Decay fungi reduce the specific gravity and the strength properties of wood. Brown-rot fungi attack the wood cellulose, and white-rot fungi attack both the lining and the cellulose.
Insects can damage the appearance of wood or seriously reduce its strength. Termites attack wood structures both above and below ground level. Bark, ambrosia and power-post beetles cause various kind of damage to wood. Carpenter ants damage partially rotted wood in buildings and poles. Various mollusc and crustacean groups, termed marine borers, damage pilings and boats.