The most common of powder post beetles is the Anobiid which is a wood infesting beetle with a head that looks to be hood-like. They are normally reddish-brown with cylindrical bodies. Their appearance is rigid or hard with their protective wings featuring pit-like rows. The powder post beetle has six legs so it is a true insect. According to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the powder post beetle causes the most confusion when it comes to structure-infesting pests.
The confusion or mistakes come from knowing if the infestation is active or not and how it should be handled. If the wrong information is obtained it results in unnecessary expenses and treatments. Inaccurate information can also fail to protect one’s property.
Just like a fly or flea, the powder post beetle goes through a metamorphosis. They transform from an egg to larvae then pupae and then to the adult. It is when they are in the larvae stage that they do the most damage to your wood products. The larvae stage lasts for up to five years before they become an adult so that means they could feed on your furniture for a long time.
The beetle will destroy your furniture from the inside and you generally don’t know there is an infestation until you find the exit hole made from the adult. The powder post beetles will typically damage items made from sapwoods like; paneling, molding, furniture, and flooring. The holes made by the emerging adults can ruin the appearance of these products. They also compromise the structural integrity of the wood. These are insects you want to get rid of.
How to Prevent an Infestation of the Powder Post Beetle
The powder post beetle will normally enter your home through lumber or unfinished wood products; ornaments, furniture or paneling. They will also attack older untreated wood. The highest risk for infestation is the wood that has been improperly stored outside such as using old barn wood or wood piles in those do-it-yourself projects.
When you purchase wooden objects check to make sure the wood has been kiln-dried or that it has sanded and has a varnished finish. If you have untreated wood in your home it would be advised that you apply shellac or varnish to it.
How to Control and Remove the Powder Post Beetle
- The powder post beetle requires a certain level of moisture in order to survive. Moisture levels of 13% or below would be unsuitable for them to lay their eggs or seek as a habitat. It is advised to install a moisture barrier in your crawl space if your building is infested. Cover the soil with polyethylene to reduce the movement of moisture and reduce the threat of the beetles from spreading.
- Other methods of reducing moisture in damp crawl spaces are to increase the air flow. Foundation vents can accomplish appropriate air movement. Moisture meters are often used in areas where the infestation is likely as a measure to predict potential powder post beetles infestation.
- If you have a single piece of furniture that has been infested it should definitely be removed. You may also know that the infestation appears to be only in one piece of wood or paneling. Simply removing that piece may resolve the problem. If you continue to see exit holes in other woods then you will need to apply an insecticidal treatment.
- The treatments can be applied to the outside of the furniture; however, they are not going to penetrate far enough into the furniture to kill the larvae. The insecticidal treatment will prevent further powder post beetles from entering as it will kill the adults and they won’t be able to enter and lay more eggs. It will also prevent newly hatched larvae from entering. You still need a product that will penetrate and kill the larvae. A product that contains borates will effectively get inside to destroy the larvae dwelling inside of your furniture.
- Products with borate that will be effective to get rid of powder post beetles is BoraCare or Timbor. Mix these products according to label instructions and either spray or brush directly on the wood surface. This creates a poisonous barrier. Both of these products are non-toxic, odorless and will remain as barriers for as long as 40 years. You can purchase both of these from professional pest control operators or lumber supply companies.
In order for the borates to get into the wood it must be unfinished. If you have sills, rafters or joists these are excellent for such treatments. Woods treated with water-resistant stain; decks, log homes or wood siding can also be penetrated. A pressure washing treatment is required prior to applying the borate treatment. If you are concerned your wood flooring has been infested this can also be sanded down and then treated with borate application.
- There are some areas that are not accessible such as floors and walls. These areas may require a more drastic treatment such as fumigation.
How to Fumigate for the Powder Post Beetle
Fumigation is the use of gaseous pesticides to fill a confined space in order to poison or suffocate all pests. This method is usually a last resort in your insect control methods and after all other options have been tried and found ineffective. It is also an expensive method of pest control.
- To fumigate your home can only be done by certified professional.
- If the infestation is contained within furniture, manufactured articles or antiques it can be treated for much less than having to do an entire room or building. The items can be placed under tarps or placed in trailers to be treated.
- When fumigation is done it is non-residual. It will get rid of your present powder post beetle infestation, but it will not prevent future ones from occurring.
The most important step to avoiding serious damage from the powder post beetle is early detection. As stated earlier, you will more than likely see the damage before you ever sight one of the actual beetles. Hopefully, this information will help you watch for the signs and know how to get rid of them if infestation occurs.