Next to termites, powderpost beetles are the most destructive wood-destroying organism in the United States. If you're seeing these beetles, or the tiny exit holes they create in wood, it is cause for concern. Over time, powderpost beetles can do quite a bit of damage to your home, barn, shed, or outbuildings. Here are a few things you should know.

powder post beetle on a cracker
powder post beetle on a plant

Powderpost Beetle Identification

A powderpost beetle is only about ⅛ to ¼ of an inch long. That's pretty small. So you're not going to easily notice these insects, especially if they're targeting wood in a crawl space under your home. They are a brownish-red color, and pilled-shaped. Their small size makes them look like little more than rust-colored pieces of rice with antennae.

Warning Signs

Holes: The first thing you're likely to notice are the holes these insects make. They're just large enough to put the tip of a dull pencil into them and, depending on the size of your infestation, there can be hundreds of them.

Frass: The sawdust material these insects create will be fine like talcum powder. This is why they're called powderpost beetles. They turn hard wooden posts (and other wood products) into powder. This powder isn't just wood particles; it is also the feces of these insects. That is why it is called grass.

Damage: When powderpost beetles do enough damage, it can cause wood beams to splinter. If you're seeing splintered wood, check for the presence of exit holes.

Checking For An Active Infestation

If you find tiny holes, it doesn't mean you have an active infestation. Sometimes lumber is damaged before it has been treated. You can check to see if powderpost beetles are actively damaging the wood by doing one of the following:

  • Apply tape to a piece of wood where there are holes present. Return later to see if holes appear in the tape.

  • Use a marker to mark holes in a designated area that is marked by a border. If new holes appear within the box or circled area you've created, you have an active infestation.

  • Lay a piece of paper underneath a piece of wood that has holes in it. If frass appears on the paper, it will leave little doubt that the wood is infested.

How Powderpost Beetles Get In

These beetles are a common problem for homes on the coast or homes that have a crawl space underneath. They are drawn to infest wood that is in damp or humid locations. When they attack the wood of a home, they simply get in through tiny gaps, cracks, and holes. It is very difficult to keep them out because they are so small.

Powderpost beetles can be brought into a home if they are inside infested wood. This can happen if you chop down a tree, and mill it. It can also occur if you get wood timbers from a source that does not properly treat the wood.

If you purchase a piece of wooden furniture, you can accidentally bring powderpost beetles into your home. Be sure to always check used items carefully for tiny holes or the presence of grass.

DIY Powderpost Beetle Control

You may see these suggestions on self-help websites.

  • It is possible to install vapor barriers and alter conditions in areas where powderpost damage is found, in an attempt to remove the humid conditions that allow these insects to thrive. But it isn't easy, straightforward, or always successful.

  • You can sand wood to prevent powderpost beetle adults from laying eggs in the imperfections on the surface of the wood. If they can't find a suitable location to lay eggs, they could move to another location. But this isn't going to address the beetle larvae that are already inside the wood. This is more of a preventative tip, rather than a treatment idea.

  • Applying varnish to wood is another way to keep powderpost beetles out. But, like sanding wood, it doesn't address the larvae, or beetles, inside.

Professional Powderpost Beetle Treatments

If you're seeing evidence of these wood destroying organisms in your Aiken home, contact Aiken Pest Control for advanced pest control you can trust. Our expertly-trained and fully-certified pest professionals know what is required to exterminate these destructive pests.


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