Powderpost beetles are a broad category of beetles that live within and eat hardwoods, reducing timber to a fine powder-like sawdust. These beetles cause millions of dollars in damage each year as they infest dry seasoned wood. In the United States, they are second only to termites in their destructiveness of wood and wood products. Powderpost beetles prefer to live deep within hardwoods, and the only indication of their presence is the sawdust they leave behind, and the pencil-sized “shot” holes that remain after adults emerge in spring. The greatest period of activity occurs during the warm season.
Powderpost Beetle Habitat
Powderpost beetles live and breed in hardwoods, such as the dead branches and limbs of trees. They avoid softwoods and will not attempt to tunnel in varnished woods. Often, eggs and larvae can be sealed within hardwoods, resulting in emerging adults later on. A female powderpost beetle will lay 50 eggs at a time, in the pores of wood. When larvae of the powderpost beetle hatch, they feed on many of the various hardwoods used in furniture, baskets, hardwood trim and flooring. Larvae will emerge one to five years later in spring. An adult powderpost beetle will not typically live for longer than a year.
Powderpost Beetle Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers
Powderpost beetles aren’t a direct threat to humans, but they do cause millions of dollars in damage each year. Adult powderpost beetles most often select and lay eggs in wood such as oak, ash, hickory, mahogany, and walnut, and infestations are most likely to occur in wood paneling, molding, flooring, window and door frames, plywood, and furniture. Powderpost beetles are strong fliers and are attracted to light. Adults are often found near windows or on windowsills when an infestation occurs indoors. Infestations in homes are almost always due to infestation of the wood prior to construction.
Powderpost Beetle Prevention
To avoid a powderpost beetle infestation, routinely inspect your home for sawdust and holes on and around hardwood. These beetles typically enter homes through unfinished furniture, poorly stored lumber, or wood that has been stored for a long time. Inspect and avoid purchasing lumber or furniture with holes or damage and seal unfinished furniture with varnish or paint before bringing inside.