Powderpost Beetle Infestations

Identifying and Eliminating Powderpost Beetle Infestations

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What are Powderpost Beetles?

Powderpost beetles are wood-boring beetles that infest wood such as timber, flooring and furniture. Also known as Lyctus Brunneus, Powderpost Beetles are a group of 70 species of wood boring beetles including true powderpost beetles (lyctids), false powderpost beetles (bostrichids), and common furniture beetle (anobiids).

As wood boring beetles, powderpost beetles attack hardwoods and can cause serious damage to the infested wood if not dealt with properly.

Understanding Wood Boring Beetles

Causes of Infestations

Powderpost beetles are attracted to moisture and can be found in areas with high humidity, high moisture content or wherever there may be moist wood. This can include floors, walls and ceilings after a leak, flood or damp problem. If the wood is not allowed to dry out properly, it is left vulnerable to powderpost beetle infestation.

The adult powderpost beetles lay their eggs in the pores of wood, and the larvae feed on the starch in the wood, the starch content declines causing weakness and damage.

Identifying Infestations

Signs of Powderpost Beetle Infestations

Powderpost beetles can infest any wood with a high wood moisture content. This includes furniture, structural timber, hardwood floors, stored lumber or rough cut lumber… even crawl spaces and basement joists.

There are many signs that will help you to identify whether you have a powderpost beetle infestation.

  • Small, unexpected piles of powder (frass) near wood surfaces or materials.
  • A older, historical infestation will be recognised by small holes (exit holes) in the wood and crumbling or decay of the infested furniture or wood.
  • There may even be adult powderpost beetles emerging from infested wood surface.

Characteristics of A Powderpost beetle

An adult Powder Post Beetle is somewhere around 4-5mm in length, dark brown or reddish brown and usually the shape of the beetle is relatively flat.

The larvae are cream coloured with a light brown head and 6 legs. They are approximately 0.5mm in length.

The Lifecycle of a Powderpost Beetle

The Powderpost beetle can live for anything up to four years depending on their environment. Usually only active infestation between May and September, they tend to hide during daylight hours and only emerge from the wood during the night.

Stages of Development

  • Adult beetles emerge from wood surface and female beetles lay eggs in the pores of wood.
  • Larvae feed on the starch in the wood, which causes the damage.
  • Pupae develop in the wood, and adult beetles emerge from small round exit holes to start the cycle again.

Damage Caused by Infestations

Wood Damage and Structural Risks

Similarly to the common furniture beetle, powderpost beetles can cause significant damage to structural wood in homes and buildings.

Infestations can lead to weakened wood and increased risk of structural failure.

Elimination and Prevention of Powderpost beetles

Treatment Options

There are different options for the treatment of powderpost beetles, dependant on the severity of the infestation.

  • Remove infested wood and replace it with new.
  • Use heat treatment to kill powderpost beetles and eliminate moisture content
  • Apply insecticides to kill powderpost beetles in infested lumber
  • If the infestation is minor, wood preservative can be injected into the emergence holes in wood surfaces to trap and kill wood boring beetles

It is important to note that if you feel you have an active infestation, the most effective way to eliminate it is to enlist the help of a professional that deals with this type of pest control.

Preventing Future Infestations

Of course, prevention is the best cure for any type of wood boring beetles.

You can seal wood surfaces with varnish or paint to prevent newly hatched larvae from boring through the wood or even use seasoned wood to reduce the risk of infestation. However, the best preventative measure is to control moisture content to prevent beetles from being attracted to damp wood in the first place.

If you are concerned about damp in your home, there are tools that enable you to check moisture content such as moisture meters. You can read more about how to measure damp in walls here.

When to Call a Professional

The best way to deal with a powderpost beetle infestation and prevent their return, is to ask for help from a professional.

Call a professional damp specialist if;

  • you suspect a large or widespread infestation.
  • you are unsure of how to treat an infestation.
  • you have tried DIY treatments without success.

Damp Surveyors Ltd are members of several trading bodies, including the Property Care Association. Therefore, the work completed on your property is done to the highest standard, so you can be confident that any issues, including woodworm, damp or other problems are correctly identified.

Picture of Jake Fitzgerald - Damp Surveyor

Jake Fitzgerald - Damp Surveyor

Surveyor of Timber & Dampness in Buildings (CSTDB) & ( MRICS ) Chartered Quantity Surveyor

Jake is a qualified chartered quantity surveyor and experienced damp specialist with a unique skill set in thermal imaging. With a focus on effective solutions, Jake combines his expertise in quantity surveying and thermal imaging to accurately assess and address damp-related issues. He utilises advanced technology to identify hidden moisture sources and develop targeted strategies, ensuring comprehensive and cost-effective solutions for his clients. With a commitment to open communication and client satisfaction, Jake delivers cutting-edge solutions that tackle damp challenges head-on.

Connect with him on Linkedin...

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