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Powder post and other wood boring beetles

Life Cycle                  

Powderpost beetles spend months or years inside the wood in the larval stage. Their presence is only apparent when they emerge from the wood as adults, leaving pin hole openings and piles of powdery frass below. The holes are usually about the size of a round toothpick depending on the species of beetle. If wood conditions are right, female beetles may lay their eggs and reinfest the wood, continuing the cycle for generations. Heavily-infested wood becomes riddled with holes and rooms or basements packed with a dusty frass (wood that has passed through the digestive tract of the beetles)  The adult beetles emerge in the spring, mate and begin laying eggs immediately. Females lay 20 to 60 eggs on bare wood surfaces, or inside previous emergence holes in finished wood. The larvae hatch out in 6 - 10 days and immediately tunnel into the wood. The larval stage will last 2 to 10years. Furniture beetles pupate near the surface of the wood and chew their way out to mate.


Eliminating the larval stage tunneling under the wood surface is almost impossible.  Spraying the surface with a residual insecticide at the time of adult emergence may reduce the population.  Adult females will not lay eggs on a varnished or painted surface. Eliminating exposed unfinished wood will prevent reinfestation.  Borate solutions such as TIM-BOR sprayed on new wood will be a good deterrent.   .

Target materials

Both hardwood and softwood can be attacked by Powderpost beetles, although lyctids only infest hardwoods.Items that can be infested by Powderpost beetles include any wooden tools or tool handles, frames, furniture, gun stocks, books, toys, bamboo, flooring, and structural timbers.


Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum)

This wood-boring insect can damage both softwoods and hardwoods. The larvae of the beetle bore through the wood digesting the cellulose. After about 3 years they form a pupal chamber near the surface and there change into adult beetles.
In the summer they bite their way out to the surface, forming the characteristic round flight-holes 1.5mm in diameter. After mating, the females lay their eggs (up to 80) in cracks, crevices or old flight-holes. The eggs hatch and a new generation begins a fresh life cycle. The life cycle can be as short as 3 years in damp timber predigested by a wood-rotting fungus.

Death Watch Beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum)

This wood-boring insect is related to the Common Furniture Beetle, but is much larger. Its flight-hole is large and round (3mm diameter) and its bore dust is coarse and bun shaped. The larvae of this beetle are usually found in decaying oak, and the life cycle from egg to adult can be as short as four years. In dry, sound wood the larvae may tunnel for up to twelve years before pupating. As with most other wood-boring insects, it is the larvae, feeding on the timber, which do all the damage. Eventually the larvae pupate and turn into beetles, which emerge from the wood, mate, and the cycle starts agan. The female lays up to 200 eggs. Whilst generally attacking hardwoods only, this wood boring insect has been known to feed upon decaying softwood timbers. The well-known tapping, caused by the head of the beetle is a mating call during the flight season (typically March-June). This insect is often found in churches hence the association with death reflected in its name.

Wood-boring weevil
(Euophryum confine)

This is a wood-boring insect somewhat similar in appearance and size to the Common Furniture Beetle. There are over 50,000 species of Weevil and all have long snouts. It also differs in that it will only attack timber which is already decayed by wood-rotting fungi. The Weevil is prolific and is known to have up to two complete life cycles in one year. Its presence may therefore be accompanied by serious structural collapse of timber due to fungal decay.

The Weevil prefers sappy early-wood where both adult and larvae tunnel, forming slot-like galleries in the timber and irregular flight-hole on the surface of about 1.5mm wide.


House Longhorn Beetle
(Hylotrupes bajulus)

This wood-destroying insect attacks seasoned softwoods laying its eggs in the cracks and crevices of wood. The eggs hatch out within about three weeks into grubs or larvae.
The larvae tunnel through the wood and can eat their own length once a day. Since near maturity they are about 25mm long, the damage caused by these insects can be enormous. After tunnelling for some 4 to 7 years, the adult beetle emerges from the wood during the mating season, leaving the characteristic oval flight-hole which may be up to 10mm long and 6mm wide. After mating, one beetle can lay as many as 200 eggs. In Great Britain this insect is found mainly in Surrey and Hampshire.


How to Inspect Your Home For Powder Post Beetles

These little critters work slowly, but over time they can cause structural damage to 
the wood in your home. 

Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance and Repair - 01500546

Powder post beetles include several small, brownish, dry wood-eating insects ranging in size from one-twelfth
to one-fifth inch long. Three families, Lyctidae, Anobiidae, and Bostrichidae, are most common in Michigan.

Powder post beetles were so named because the wood upon which they feed is generally eaten into a fine,
flourlike powder. The Lyctus types feed primarily on hardwoods; the Anobiids prefer to attack softwoods, such
as conifers. They can damage and, in some cases, eventually destroy (by completely tunneling) all exposed
wood in houses, including furniture and paneling.

Click here to read the rest of this article: 

This page tells you how to find them.


Furniture Beetle

This cylindrical shaped beetle (also called powder-post beetle by some) is reddish brown and 1/6 to 1/4 inch (4 - 6 mm) long. It has punctures on the dorsum in longitudinal rows. The last three segments of the antennae are longer than the others.
Food: Wood and reeds. They prefer wood with a high moisture content.


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