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How to Tell if you Have Powder Post Beetle Damage

The powder post beetle is a prominent pest in this part of Florida and is actually prevalent in the coastal and southern areas of the United States.  They can be found all the way up in Maine, down the eastern coastline, across through Louisiana and Texas, into California and up through into Oregon and Washington State.  In appearance, they have an almost hoodlike covering over their head and have long, oval-sized bodies and are usually dark brownish red in color. They have wings and look as if they have a hard dull metal covering over their entire body.  At their largest, they can be a quarter of an inch long, but are usually around 3/8 of an inch long.

When people think of wood-boring insects, they most often think of the termite.  However, the powder post beetle is also a wood-boring insect.  The adults will lay eggs and once hatched, the larvae may spend up to five years growing and feasting on your wood before they become an adult.  Ironically, the powder post beetle can spend up to five years before changing into an adult, yet the adults may only live a few weeks.  They generally live long enough to mate and lay eggs prior to dying.

Adults are usually seen in late spring and throughout the summer.  Some signs of damage include tiny holes in furniture, weakened wooden structure and the tiny “frass” or wood powder that is left over after the beetle devours your wood.  Powder post beetle can be found in both hard wood and soft wood, however, they prefer wood that is in closed, humid areas without much open air.

The best way to tell you have an infestation is by looking for the exit holds in the wood. These are little tiny holes where the adults have left the wood to find their mate.  If you see some holes, but aren’t sure if you have powder post beetles, clean the wood off and seal off the existing holes.  Check back every now and then and if you see new powder or frass or new holes, then you know some type of creature is living in that wood.

The first treatment may be to dry out the location and provide proper ventilation around the wood. Simply by drying out the environment, you may entice the bugs to move elsewhere.  However, if that doesn’t seem to work, an exterminator can provide a more detailed treatment plan.

Sunstate Pest Management is headquartered out of Rockledge Florida but serves major sections of eastern to middle Central Florida. We serve Melbourne, Palm Bay, Vero, Indian Harbour, Beachsides, Viera, Suntree, Kissimmee and St. Cloud. Thank you.

This blog is a free service for anyone looking to increase their knowledge about insects and rodents that are considered pests.

21 Apr

4 responses to “How to Tell if you Have Powder Post Beetle Damage”

  1. Drew says:

    When I first heard about powder post beetles, I was surprised at how similar they were to termites. It really opened my eyes to how serious they could be if you don’t handle them. Thanks for the tips.

    • Tabitha says:

      Hello Drew,
      Many people we talk to are very surprised at the amount of damage that these beetles can do. We appreciate your interest and are happy you found these tips helpful.

  2. Carly Bigelow says:

    Can powder post beetles go into someones furniture and destroy it in one year? We have tenants living in our home for 1 year now. We own a condo (frame) and it was built in the 1980’s. We’ve had 10 tenants so far in the unit. This is the first time we’ve heard about this. Our unit has wood rot outside and some termite damage but we never knew about any beetle damage to our home or any furniture. We are assuming the furniture brought in was probably infested. What are your thoughts?

    Thank you

    • Pest Management says:

      Hello Carly, The beetles most likely were in the furniture when it was brought into the home. It may take some time before the evidence shows up. – Eric

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