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Powderpost beetleHow To Control Powderpost Beetles

Most people think that when it comes to wood-loving bugs, the usual suspects are termites and carpenter ants. While it may be true that these insects do a lot of damage to the wood elements of homes because of their affinity for burrowing through wood, there is another bug that homeowners should worry about targeting your home’s precious wood.

Powderpost Beetles are one such pest. Powderpost beetles are rather rare and are largely unknown but it doesn’t take away from the fact that these pests can be damaging and destructive to homes. Here at Solutions Pest and Lawn you can rest assured that if you need to figure out a way to control a powderpost beetle outbreak on your home, we can point you in the right direction in finding every product you will need to deal with this wood-loving irritant, on top of receiving free DIY how-to advice.

Powderpost Beetle Background Information

Powderpost Beetles (Lyctoxylon dentatum) are part of the Lyctinae subfamily and are also known called Wood boring beetles. They get the name “powderpost” due to the fact that the larvae of these beetles feed on wood and if given enough time they can break down wood until it becomes merely a powdery dust. There are about 70 subspecies of powderpost beetles. These include species like lyctidae, bostrichidae, and the anobiidae (anobiid) which is the most common.

Powderpost beetles have six legs and cylindrical, or elongated bodies that are typically reddish-brown/black color. They have protective wings that feature distinct pit-like rows, giving them a hardened appearance. Powder post beetles go through several stages similar to a fly or a flea. Starting from an egg, they develop into a larvae, pupae and then adult. The adult period is a short lifespan where they mainly lay eggs and soon perish.

It is during the larval stage that powderpost beetles to the most damage.  Once the eggs hatch and the larvae emerges,  they begin to bore into and feed on the wood surrounding them.  It takes typically up to 5 years before the larvae will mature into an adult which means a lot of feeding on wood and on furniture. If a powderpost beetle has infested a wooden piece of furniture this could be indicated through tiny holes in your furniture from this process. You may also find piles of sawdust-like waste called frass which looks similar to coffee grounds. This is another indication of an infestation.

Browse our assortment of products below for controlling powder post beetles. For more information, call us at 800-479-6583, shoot us an email at askapro@solutionsstores.com or contact us via live chat or our social media channels!

holes in wood from powderpost beetles

How To Get Rid of Powder Post Beetle: Solutions 4 Step Process

Step 1: Identification. Powder post beetle adults are extemely small, less than 1/4" in size. They have flat-shaped bodies and vary between reddish-brown to black in color. Powder post beetle larvae look like your average grub, a creamy white with dark brown at the tip. Larvae burrow themselves into wood to transition into pupa. Once they reach adulthood, they bore out from the wood. While doing so, they push out a fine powdery dust, hence their name. The shape of their holes are that of a tiny pinhole.

It's not uncommon to confuse the powder post beetle with another insect or beetle. Therefore, if you have any difficulty ID'ing the insect yourself, you can always take a picture of the insect you see and send a picture our way by emailing identification@solutionsstores.com. We have licensed entomologists on staff who will respond back to you with the correct ID.


Step 2: Inspection. Once you are sure that the insect is a powder post beetle, you can then move on to inspection to assess the severity of the infestation. This can be done by surveying the damage of your wood particles for your food. An active infestation of powder post beetles will be evident by seeing powdered wood from borings in piles on the floor below or near the holes. Another indicator of an infestation may be hearing a clicking noise made by the larvae. You should also check if the shavings you spot are recent or old, this can be indicated via observing the color. New frass and wood dust is a fine sandy color.


Step 3: Control. After learning where the powder post beetle hot spots are around your home, you can then break out the chemical insecticides. What we recommend using is Boracare. While Boracare is labeled for termites, it is also a great product to treat powder post beetles which have infested your wood. Please use according to label directions. Alternative treatments for successful treatment of powder post beetles include Jecta Injectable Borate is another fine borate based product that is a good option for treating wood furniture.


Step 4. Prevention. After eliminating the powder post beetle infestation, you don't want them to make a comeback and deal more damage to your wood properties. There are some preventative measures to put into place to lessen the likelihood of a reinfestation. One important thing to address is wood moisture. Moisture content in the wood needs to be reduced as much as possible. Some ways you can address this is by implementing central heat, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can help control moisture. Aside from this, you can apply preventative treatment to wood such as Boracare and Tim-Bor Insecticide.


Powderpost Beetles - The other Wood Destroying Insect To Worry About

While homeowners are well-aware of the threat of termites to the precious wooden elements of their home, there are few which know about other insects which can have a field day on wood and cause a lot of destruction that is expensive to repair. One such insect is the powderpost beetle which likely comes second to termites on the damage they can inflict on the wooden parts of homes.

hole damage by powderpost beetle

Types of Damage Powderpost Beetles Inflict on Wood

Similar to termites, there are types of powderpost beetles which enjoy consuming hardwood varieties such as oak, ash, walnut, bamboo and hickory while other types enjoy softer woods like pine. The majority of standard homes are made with a softwood frame meaning that if powderpost beetles are present, these species can cause considerable structural damage to homes.


For the powder post beetles that exclusively eat hardwood, that doesn’t mean your home will be spared from their drilling and damage. Powderpost beetles have also been discovered to infest wood paneling in homes, crown molding, the frames of doors and windows, hardwood floors and wooden pieces of furniture.


The Three Main Species of Powderpost Beetle


There are three main varieties of powderpost beetle that are found in the US that do a number on wood by boring into it and reducing it into dust: Anobiid powderpost beetles, lyctid powderpost beetles and bostrichidae powderpost beetles.


Perhaps the most common of all the powderpost beetle species, anobiid Powderpost beetles are from the Anobiidae family of beetles. Anobiid powderpost beetles typically attack only sapwood by have been known to deviate and consume other woods on rare instances.

Anobiid powderpost beetles are mainly concentrated in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and are prominent in the coastal areas. The reason for this is likely due to moisture as they do well in such areas. Unlike Lyctid and Bostrichidae powderpost beetles, the" frass" which anobiids release are coarse and look similar to gritty coffee grounds.


A worrisome trait of a anobiid powderpost beetle is their likelihood of re-infesting wood furniture after being removed.


Lyctid powderpost beetles are known to bore through hardwoods including but not limited to myrtle, ash, hickory, oak, bamboo and mahogany. This is largely because lyctid powderpost beetles have a tendency to enjoy wood that have large pores. These insects are also , much like the anobiid powderpost beetle, are concentrated in the Pacific Northwest. Lyctid powderpost beetles are also commonly discovered in furniture, wood paneling and trim in the gulf coast states.


New homes in the process of being built using ash wood paneling by customer home builders carry a high risk of becoming infested by lyctid powderpost beetles. The "frass" or wood powder feces from Lyctid powder post beetles is flour-like in texture.

Lyctid powderpost beetles typically focus their consumption and attack on hardwoods, but there have been instances where they have been found in soft woods also.



Bostrichidae powderpost beetles are least common type of powderpost beetle due to the fact that they are primarily found in the tropics. They can be discovered in either hard or soft woods but have a preference for soft woods. The “frass” left behind by Bostrichidae powderpost beetles are coarse and look similar to coffee grounds.


Other Beetles In The Powder Post Beetle Family

Aside from the three main categories, there are even further subcategories of powder post beetles that can be an issue.


The Furniture Beetle

Furniture beetle adults are common in the springtime and can be seen coming out of cells of infested wood. When the adults burrow out of the wood, they begin to mate and lay eggs.


The female furniture beetle lays anywhere between 20 to 60 eggs in the old holes they have burrowed out from in wooded furniture and it takes anywhere from a week to 10 days for the egg to hatch.


Furniture beetle larvae then feed for close to a year before going into pupation for two to three weeks. For the furniture beetle to survive, them moisture content of the wood they bore into needs to be at least in the range of 13-30%.


When they transition into adulthood, the adult beetle drills directly to the surface of the wood, emerging through a round hole 1/16- to 1/8-inch in diameter. Under favorable conditions, adulthood can be reached as quickly as one year; however, two to three years is more typical. The adults are most active at nightfall and some may be attracted to light.


These beetles commonly infest seasoned sapwood of hardwoods and softwoods. They attack structural timbers, lumber, cabinets, and furniture. These beetles re-infest, and the females usually lay eggs in the wood from which they emerged. The larvae typically follow the grain of the wood when feeding ad fill their tunnels with wood frass. The frass is a fine powder with long pellets loosely packed into the galleries.


Furniture beetles can be quite sneaky and can usually go undetected while in infested wood structures and furnitures until there are apparent holes made in wood surfaces. By conducting measures which reduce the wood moisture of the infested wood, the larvae development can be affected.


Round Headed Borers


Also known commonly long-horned beetles, this type of powder post beetle likes to feed on dead trees or those going through decline and decay. However, there are many which feed on live trees as well.


Indoors, these beetles are known to infest firewood brought in from outdoors. Once you see these beetles indoors, there's often worry that the pest has infested structural wood. With this being the case, firewood brought in should be used very quickly.


The bodies of larvae are long and narrow and are cream colored. Adults vary in size from 1/2 inch to 3 inches long. These beetles stand out from other powder post beetles due to their longer than normal antennae which may be longer than their entire body, which is the reason why they are also called long-horned beetles.



Old House Borer

The Old House Borer is another powder post beetle family member which is becoming increasingly more common. The larvae is known for hollowing out galleries in pine. These pests are found in older buildings, but is are more likely to infest newer buildings (younger than 10 years old).

Adult hose borers are colored brownish-black to black, have a body that is somewhat flat and can range between ¾ of an inch to 1 inch in length. The life cycle of the old house borer can last up to twelve years old. Due to the lengthy life cycle, the old house borer can make re-infestations of the same piece of wood.


Old house borers often slip under the radar as it could take some time before serious structural damage is noticed. The exit holes of emerging adults do not occur in very large numbers until the infestation has been established for a number of years. Coupling this fact with the fact that larvae can feed on food significantly without breaking through the surface of the wood, make it vital to be thorough in inspecting the home for infested wood to spot damage.


Interesting Facts About Powderpost Beetles

  • It is often believed that powderpost beetles are in their adult stage when they are boring into wood and doing the most damage but on the contrary, the most damage done by these wood lovers when they are in the larvae stage.

  • Adult powderpost beetles are not known to live very long, usually only long enough to lay eggs before their lifespan ends.

  • Once powderpost beetle eggs hatch and the larvae emerges, they begin to relentlessly bore into and feed on the wood they are surrounded by. It takes around five years for powderpost beetle larvae to mature into adulthood which means that’s a lot of feeding on wood being done! There have also been shocking reports of powderpost beetles emerging out of furniture 35 years after it was initially infested by them.

  • The life cycle of a powderpost beetles goes from egg to larvae to pupae and finally adult. Once reaching adulthood, powderpost beetles will emerge from the wood and is the time they are most visibly seen by homeowners.

  • The distinguishing feature to figure out what species of powderpost beetle you are dealing with is “frass”. This is the waste and wooden fecal matter which powderpost beetles leave behind from the exit holes they create in wood. The way the frass looks and is textured can range from from very fine (similar to flour) to very coarse (similar to coffee grounds).

  • When an adult female powderpost beetle emerges from its infested wood, it will begin to look to mate with an adult male. She will then lay her eggs either on or underneath a piece of unfinished wood. While adults do not have a long lifespan, they can live for several days or weeks. Powderpost beetles are nocturnal, making locating them quite difficult.

dead powderpost beetleTips on Powderpost Beetle Control

Powderpost beetles, and indeed most wood loving insects thrive in areas where there is moisture and dampness. This can be a serious issue not only because of the insects but also because these same damp conditions can encourage the growth of other wood destroying problems such as mold. Therefore, if you want to protect your home you should aim to remove as much moisture as possible from the wood that makes up its frame.

The powder post beetle normal enters homes through lumber or wood products that are unfinished like furniture or paneling. They will also attack older wood that has been untreated. 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 to inspect the wood to make sure it has been dried and treated or that it has been sanded and has a varnished finish. Also, do not purchase wood with damaged surfaces or with present exit holes.

Solutions Recommended Products for Controlling Powderpost Beetles

There are several effective ways you can handle powderpost beetles, one of them is using a product that is also effective in treating termites which is Boracare. Boracare works well to treat active infestations of powderpost beetles. This product contains borate which has the ability to penetrate and get rid of Powderpost beetles inside the wood as well as those entering or exiting the surface of the wood. Boracare also works because it attack the larvae inside the wood, preventing them from causing further surface damage in the future.

Tim-Bor Insecticide is also a good insecticide to tackle powderpost beetles but is geared more towards prevention but not control. Jecta Injectable Borate is another fine borate based product that is a good option when you have a piece of furniture that cannot be stripped of it’s finish. In cases such as this, holes will need to be drilled for Jecta to be applied.

When it comes to insecticide sprays, boracare could be applied as a spray or Tempo SC Ultra or Tempo WP Insecticide to treat an infestation.

Additional Resources:

Lyctid Powderpost Beetles: Suggestions for Control - Insects in the City

[PDF]Powderpost Beetles - ohiowood.osu.edu - The Ohio State University

[PDF]Preventing and Controlling Powderpost Beetles in and Around the House



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