Powder Post Beetle Distribution Map
Powderpost beetles can be found all along the eastern and western coastlines of the United States. They are very prominent from Florida up through Rhode Island and from Southern California up through Washington state.
Powder Post Beetle Description
Anobiid powderpost beetles are the most common of all powderpost beetles. These wood infesting beetles have bodies that consist of a head that appears to be “hoodlike".. Their bodies are cylindrical, or elongated, and they are generally a reddish-brown/black color. They have protective wings that feature distinct pit-like rows, giving them a rigid, or hardened, appearance.
Anobiid powderpost beetles are usually only 1/16-3/8 of an inch long. However, it isn’t uncommon to find larger varieties in buildings, with some being up to 1/4 of an inch long.
While the adult Anobiid powderpost beetles are reddish-brown to black in color, the mature worm like larvae are white and appear to be C-shaped. However, they do have the enlarged thorax and can also be 3/16-1/2 inch long like the adults. Anobiid powderpost beetles are true insects and have six legs.
Adult anobiid powderpost beetle
(actual size - 3/16 inch)
Anobiid powderpost beetles are the most common powderpost beetle in the United States.
Anobiid powderpost beetle larvae
(actual size -1/16 inch)
Anobiid powderpost beetle larvae do most of the damage to wood. They eat the wood from the inside and turn it into a fine powder resembling everything from flour to coffee grains.
Lyctid adult powderpost beetle
(actual size -1/8 inch)
Anobiid powderpost beetle "exit" holes.
Anobiid beetle holes are large, about 1/8 inch. The adult beetle emerges from within the wood to lay eggs. These holes are either old or new. New exit holes will have the color of freshly sawed wood. Old holes will be oxidized and dark.
Anobiid powderpost beetle damage looks like tiny gritty pellets.
Lyctid powderpost beetle damage looks like fine flour. Lyctid powderpost beetle holes are very small, about 1/16 inch.The Lyctid powder post beetle exit holes are much smaller than anobiid.
Powder Post Beetle Facts
You may think that the powder post beetle that is attacking your wood products are the adults, however, most damage done to furniture is from the mature larvae. This is because the adults don’t live very long - usually only long enough to lay eggs. Once the eggs hatch and the larvae are out, they begin to bore into and feed on the wood surrounding them. It can take up to 5 years before the larvae will mature into an adult. This means that they may be feeding on your furniture for up to 5 years! There have been reports of powder post beetles emerging from furniture 35 years after it was infested!
Powder post beetles go through a complete metamorphosis, just like a fly or a flea. There is an egg, larvae, pupae and adult. Once the larvae have turned into adults, they will emerge from the wood. This will most likely happen during any of the months between April and July. You may notice tiny holes in your furniture from this process – these are called "exit" holes.
Once the adult female powderpost beetle emerges, it will mate with an adult male. She will then lay her eggs either on or beneath a piece of unfinished wood. Sometimes they will crawl into a crack or a joint in the wood to lay their eggs. While adults do not live long, they can live for several days or weeks. They are nocturnal in nature, making it difficult to find them during the day.
Types of Powder Post Beetles
All three of these beetles are found in the US and are considered “powderpost beetles” because they are all wood-boring beetles that destroy wood by turning it into a fine powder called "frass".
Anobiid Powderpost beetles
belong to the Anobiidae beetle family. They are close relatives to the Bostrichidae
They are sometimes called "false powder post beetles".
Anobiid powderpost beetles usually only attack sapwood, but they have been found in heartwood on rare occasions. They are most commonly found in the Pacific Northwest and are the most abundant on the coastal areas. The reason for this is that they do best when moisture is present. Unlike Lyctid and Bostrichidae powderpost beetles, the" frass" or powder of Anobiids are formed into tiny gritty fecal pellets.
Anobiid powder post beetles will attack both hard and soft woods.
Lyctid powderpost beetles
Lyctid powderpost beetles
are generally found in wood such as myrtle, ash, hickory, oak, bamboo and mahogany. This is because these types of wood are large-pored. These insects are commonly found in the Pacific Northwest. Lyctid powder post beetles are also found commonly in furniture, paneling and trim in the gulfcoast states.
Custom home builders should beware that the expensive ash paneling and trim that they are installing in their beautiful new home could be infested with powder post beetles! The "frass" or powder from Lyctid powder post beetles is flour like. The exit holes are small pencil lead size holes, usually all the same size.
Lyctid powder post beetles will usually only attack hard woods, although they have been reported in some soft woods as well.
Bostrichidae powderpost beetles
Bostrichidae powderpost beetles
are not as common as Lyctid and Anobiid powderpost beetles because they are usually only found in the tropics. They can be found in both soft woods and hard woods, but they prefer soft woods. Their "frass" or powder is very coarse -about the size of coffee grounds.
They are sometimes referred to as "deathwatch beetles".
Where to Find Powder Post Beetles
Anobiid powderpost beetles can be found in both soft wood and hard wood, but they thrive in woods with a moisture level higher than 14 percent. This makes wood in poorly ventilated places the most susceptible. However, you won’t be able to see the beetles because they destroy your wood from within. Therefore, in most cases, the only sign that there is an infestation is by discovering the "exit" holes from the adult beetles.
Once you’ve determined that there is an infestation, you need to determine if it is an active one. The signs that you have an active infestation include finding a light fresh-cut wood powder near the exit holes. You can easily determine if this is an active infestation by sealing the holes and cleaning up the dust surrounding them. Then, recheck the wood periodically to see if there are new holes.
How to Kill and Get Rid of Anobiid Powderpost Beetles
Moisture control combined with a wood preservative treatment such as Bora Care should be the first line of defense against this aggressive pest. In situations where moisture control cannot be implemented, removal of the infested wood along with replacing the wood with "insect and mold resistant wood" should be considered.
Lumber containing the chemical "creosote" is no longer available, but some of the newer wood preservatives that turn the wood green and are sold as "treated" lumber can help to ward off invading powder post beetles.
Hardie Wood sold by the James Hardie company is basically a cement fiber based wood replacement that is excellent for replacing infested wood and siding.
Spot or localized treatments of infested wood can and will sometimes resolve the infestation. Direct wood treatment using a product such as Termidor, Phantom or Premise can be effective as long as the wood is not sealed.
One of the underlying problems with direct wood treatment is that NONE of the available powder post beetle control products will penetrate through stain, paint or varnish. In almost all situations where direct wood treatment is desired, unless the wood can be removed to expose an unfinished side, the wood must be sanded down to bare wood to allow the product to penetrate. Spraying any of these water based products on top of the finish will result in the wood insecticide or preservative beading up and rolling off just like water. The good news is that after sanding the wood and proper application of the pesticide has been made and the wood is dry, paint, stain or varnish can then be applied as desired.
In some situations, the wood can be injected with pesticide with a wood injector such as the crane needle injector. The wood must be drilled with a small drill bit into the "galleries" where the powder post beetle larvae are feeding. The insecticide can then be injected to kill the beetles directly. Injection through the exit holes will not work since those holes are basically "old" and the beetles have already escaped.
Any type of localized treatment for powder post beetles should always be followed with regular inspections for new "exit" holes to determine if the infestation has spread or was never totally eliminated in the first place. In many cases, a regular regimen of powder post beetle inspection, wood replacement and wood treatment is necessary until all infested wood can be eliminated or treated within the structure.
Fumigation involves wrapping the structure in gas tight tarps and releasing a fumigant such as "Vikane" inside. The entire process takes about 2 days and is usually 100% effective in killing all pests withing the structure.
Structural Fumigation For Powder Post Beetles
Fumigation of homes and infested furniture and other wood products will kill powderpost beetles. It ’s important to note that fumigating an entire building can become quite expensive, costing thousands of dollars. The benefit of fumigation with fumigants such as "Vikane" are that the adult beetle and mature larvae forms of infestation can be totally eliminated with one treatment. However, be forwarned that the powderpost beetle eggs are not easily killed. This is because the powderpost beetle egg has a watery covering. Vikane does not penetrate water very well. With the use of "Vikane", (the only currently available structural fumigant), the requirement is that 10 times the amount of Vikane gas has to be used to kill the eggs as it does to kill the adults and the mature larvae. This is called a "10X" rate of gas in the fumigation industry. To use 10 times the amount of gas to kill the eggs as it takes to kill the adults is very expensive and not always successful. For this reason, if you decide to use a structural fumigation company, be sure that they have a rock solid reputation and will guarantee to "re-fumigate" if necessary at no additional charge.
In the Los Angeles, California area call, Call Global Termite Solutions at 1-800-253-8870 or visit their website at www.globaltermitesolutions.com.
Powder Post Beetles In Furniture
Lyctid and Anobiid powder post beetles commonly infest furniture. If your furniture is relatively new, then a trip back to the furniture store could end up netting you some new furniture. An older infestation is usually going to require fumigation. Many pest control companies have what is called a "fumigation" chamber that is essentially a large concealed tank or area where they will fumigate the furniture. These fumigation chambers are usually small 10 foot x 10 foot areas where the furniture is placed and fumigated with Vikane or Phosphorous gas.
If the infestation is not large or the furniture not badly damaged, it will be much more cost-effective to fumigate the individual articles that are infested. If only one or two pieces of wood are infested, it may also be cheaper to replace the furniture.
Powder Post Beetle Prevention
To prevent powderpost beetles from attacking your furniture or home you should do the following:
- When building a new home, make sure that there is a warranty from the builder or a wood supplier against powder post beetle infestation.
- Refrain from using old lumber that may have been infested at another location. Don't build powder post beetles into your home.
- Do not use wood that hasn’t been stored and dried correctly. Keep the wood moisture levels below 13% by using 4-6 ml of polyethylene on the soil under pier and beam structures.
- Increase ventilation in damp areas, make sure that there is adequate air inflow and outflow to help carry moisture away.
- Always inspect older furniture for signs of "exit holes" and signs of damage. Any exit holes or damage should be thoroughly investigated. Remember, active powder post beetles have been found in furniture that was over 35 years old!
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