If someone were to ask you to name a wood-destroying pest, which pest do you think would come to mind? If you said termites, you're not alone. That is what most people would say-and there is good reason. Termites have earned their reputation. They cost U.S. property owners over $5 billion every year. You might have also said carpenter ants. That's because carpenter ants have been known to completely total structures as they create galleries and tunnels in wood to establish their nests. But there is one wood-destroying pest that doesn't get a lot of attention-though it should. It gets its name from its ability to reduce wood to a fine, powder-like substance. If that sounds bad, it is because it's bad. Really bad. If you have antique furniture or keepsakes made of wood, this is definitely an insect that you should never overlook.

damage in wood from powder post beetle
powder post beetle on wood


The powderpost beetle is a tiny insect that is around ⅛ to ¾ of an inch in length, and usually brown in color. It has an elongated pill shape, but this is hard to see because the powderpost beetle is so small. If you were to lay a pencil tip next to one of these insects, it wouldn't be much wider than the tip. You're more likely to see the tiny holes they create before you notice these bugs.

Why Are Powderpost Beetles A Threat?

Though these insects are small, a large number of these beetles can do quite a bit of damage. On a large scale, these insects can infest lumber (especially imported tropical hardwoods) or the structure of new homes and lay eggs in unfinished wood. When the larvae emerge, they bore into the wood and remain there for as long as 5 years. So, it is not uncommon to see these insects appear in large numbers within brand new homes. And, when they appear, they become a threat to all of the wood belongings inside the house.

Powder Post Beetle Damage

In nature, these beetles bore holes into dead branches, stumps, logs, and other wood that is dry and dead. Their job is to help in the decomposition of dead wood. But these beetles don't know the difference between a dead tree branch and a piece of two-by-four. And, they don't understand that we don't like it when they reduce the wood in our homes to powder. But how significant is this damage? Well, it depends on which powderpost beetles you have.

If you have beetles from the family lyctidae, you're going to see less damage to the structure of your home. You're likely to find the larvae of these beetles damaging furniture, baseboards, bed frames, backboards, cabinets, shelves, and such. These beetles target hardwoods and, in particular, wood that is less than 5 years old.

If you have beetles from the family anobiidae, you could have more issues. This is because they don't just damage hardwood. They can infest softwood as well. These insects can target floor joists, walls studs, and other structural wood, and create damage that has wide-reaching implications for a home. When signs of powderpost beetles appear, it is important to get a professional inspection to safeguard your equity.

Powder Post Beetle Treatments

Since these beetles can be destructive, we don't suggest homeowners try to deal with them on their own. It is important to get a proper identification of the pest you're dealing with and have a professional administer the appropriate pest protocol.

At Aiken Pest Control, we often use conventional chemical treatments and a process of inspections to resolve powderpost beetle infestations. For large scale infestations, it may be necessary to turn to fumigation as the solution. Powderpost beetles bore tunnels into wood, and it can sometimes be difficult to get them with a chemical treatment. But fumigation uses gases that can easily enter those tunnels and stop these destructive pests in their tracks.

For more information on powderpost beetles and the threat they pose to man-made structures, or to schedule a free inspection, drop us a line or give us a call. We look forward to serving you.


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