Powder Post Beetles A Common Pest In New England Barns, Wood Sheds And Basements

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

INTRODUCTION. Woodboring beetles function in nature to reduce dead wood to a form that can be utilized as plant food. Those attacking seasoned wood can be very destructive to the intended use of the wood as a structure or as furnishings. About 100 species are commonly encountered as pests of wood found in structures or furnishings. Most of the damage created by this species is actually done by the larvae not the beetle. BIOLOGY. Beetles have complete or complex metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Eggs of woodinfesting beetles are usually laid in surface cracks or crevices, or in wood pores and bark. The larvae are always found within the wood. Larval tunnels or galleries are usually found in the sapwood and run primarily with the wood grain. These tunnels increase in diameter with each larval molt and are usually packed with a combination of wood fragments and fecal material, commonly called frass. Pupation usually occurs near the surface and often in a pupal cell. Once the adult emerges, it bores directly to the surface and leaves the wood via an exit/emergence hole; old house borers have their exit hole prebored by the larva and may wait several months before exiting. Adults usually live only a matter of days or weeks. Some adults are attracted to light and may be found at windows, etc. Larvae may remain in their wood destroying phase for as few as 50 days or may remain larvae for 10 years or longer. SIGNS OF INFESTATION. Because adults and larvae of woodboring beetles are not often seen, determination of their existence is usually based on the evidence they leave behind. One must use all of the evidence available because rarely will one characteristic, such as exit hole size, be conclusive. Therefore, the identification will usually be based on the size of the exit holes(usually less than 1/8" in diameter), presence of larvae or beetles and frass actively streaming from exit holes. Some furniture known to be " worm wood" can become more valuable thanks to the larvas efforts. CONTROL. A number of methods may be used subject to control powder post beetles. 1. Old holes may be marked with a marker pen or spray painted if located in an obscure place, covered with masking tape, or filled with wood putty or caulk. Some of these methods may cause any lingerers to suffocate and will make new exit holes easy to locate. 2. Presence of new frags, especially if it is streaming from exit holes. It is best to remove all present frags with a broom or vacuum and check back in a few days. This is tricky because old frags may sift out of abandoned exit holes due to vibrations or, outdoors, old frags may be expelled by solitary bees which use old tunnels for nesting purposes. 3. Listening devices such as an amplified stethoscope is often useful in determining larval activity and its location. Once you have clearly identified your target the following procedures may be used. Mechanical removal and replacement. If the beetle infestation is isolated to a small area wood can be removed and replaced. The infested wood must be removed from the structure and should be destroyed. If the infested wood is a piece of furniture, art object, valuable antique, etc. fumigation by a professional pest control company is recommended. If the infestation is widespread but accessible such as in unfinished areas such as an attic, crawl space, basement or barn it's probably not feasible to remove the wood from large areas, but limited area treatment by surface spraying or injection is recommended. This sort of treatment should be conducted by a professional pest control company. If a home owner does undertake this enterprise liquid pesticides approved for use by the general public should be applied to exposed surface according to label directions and the application must be thorough.

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