4 Things to Know About Powderpost Beetles

4 Things to Know About Powderpost Beetles

Powder post beetles are a common pest that destroys wood both inside the home and outside. These beetles are not a species of insect, but a term used to describe several different species of wood boring insects. The name “powder post” refers to the fine residual powder that is left outside of a hole that they have bored through a piece of wood. These insects are second only to termites in the amount of damage that they cause homeowners annually. Powder post beetles can do damage to furniture, cabinets and even the structure of a home. Infestation of support beams in a home is a serious issue that is costly to resolve.

The time from eggs to larvae to an adult beetle boring a hole out of a piece of wood can be anywhere from one to five years, so it is entirely possible to have an infestation in a home that will go unnoticed for years until the holes, and residual powder from them, are visible. During that period, the bugs have been boring holes throughout the wood. Below are some essential facts to know when dealing with these pests:

Evidence of Powder Post Beetles.

There are two types of evidence to look for when there is an infestation of powder post beetles. The first is the residue that is left behind when the beetles bore out of the wood, which can be anything from a beam in the basement to a windowsill in the kitchen. This residue is a fine, dust-like substance comprised of ground up wood that accumulates in small piles around the affected area. Upon discovering this residue, look for the holes made when the insects bore out of the wood. These holes will be about the size of a pinhead and may be numerous and dense or may only be a few.

Determining the Status of the Infestation.

When finding evidence of powder post beetles in areas that are not frequently in use, the infestation may be old and no longer pose a threat. The first thing to do is to probe inside of the exit holes with a screwdriver to determine the extent of the damage done below the surface and to check for larvae. Holes that are fresh have a brighter appearance, like a recently drilled hole. Weathered looking holes may be old infestations that are no longer a threat. Sweep away the powdery wood dust and re-examine the affected area in a few days to see if any more of this wood dust has accumulated, and if it has, you can be confident that the infestation is active and needs immediate attention.

Treating an Active Powder Post Beetle Infestation.

The first action to take in the event of an infestation is to reduce the amount of moisture content in the wood to less than 20% and use a moisture meter for this determination. Powder post beetles need a certain amount of moisture to survive. Proper ventilation, vapor barriers, and application of heat all work to reduce moisture.

The next step is to treat the wood, if it is unfinished, with insecticides, such as Timbor or Boracare. These insecticides will kill any eggs or larvae to a depth of about ¼ inch, and any remaining insects will die when they encounter the agent while boring out. For infestations that occur in hard to reach areas, such as crawlspaces, fumigation may be the only option, and this must be done by a professional.

Preventing Powder Post Beetle Infestation.

Prevention of powder post beetles ideally begins at the lumberyard, because this is where most infestation begins. These insects seek out unfinished wood, but they will not survive a drying process, so make sure to buy only kiln-dried lumber for use in your home. Lumberyards that have a lot of old wood lying around are much more likely to have a problem with infestation than those that regularly move stock. When purchasing unfinished furniture, paint or varnish it as quickly as possible, because the beetles will not bore into coated wood.

To conclude, powder post beetles are pests that homeowners need to be on the lookout for because they can cause significant damage. People that are not confident in their ability to detect and address an infestation should contact a pest control service for assistance.

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