As the name suggests, powderpost beetles can reduce wood to a fine powder given enough time. These bugs are more than just a nuisance and can cause serious damage to your property and belongings. Learning more about these insects can help you determine when to contact Baton Rouge pest control professionals to avoid further wood damage.
What Are Powderpost Beetles?
There are 70 species of woodboring insects known as powderpost beetles. These pests target deciduous trees, and depending on the species, they can attack hardwood and softwood varieties. Most species of powderpost beetle share a few characteristics. In their adult form, the beetles don’t usually cause much damage to the wood. It’s when an adult lays its eggs on exposed wood that the larvae can cause problems.
The larvae create tunnels and galleries in the lumber as they take in nutrients and grow. As they feed, they leave behind frass, also known as wood powder. The frass may be compacted together, sticky or left loose and powdery. Depending on the species, the larvae can spend months or even years inside before emerging. It’s only when they tunnel out as adults that you realize you have an infestation and need a pest control service.
True Powderpost Beetles
The adults of this species are very small, less than a one-fourth of an inch. Their coloring is a reddish-brown, and they appear slightly flattened. This species prefers wood with a high moisture content. Lumber with a moisture content of less than 6 percent can help discourage true powderpost beetles from feeding on the material. These insects feed on the starch, sugar and protein of hardwood and sapwood tree species. Oak, hickory, cherry and walnut flooring, as well as antique furniture, can be frequent targets of true powderpost beetles.
The name of these beetles is attributed to the ticking or tapping sound they create to attract mates. The larvae of deathwatch beetles, while quite soft, are still able to consume both hardwood and softwood. The frass of these beetles is compacted into pellets in the various tunnels and galleries inside the wood. Adults range in size from one-fourth to three-eighth of an inch long. Get in touch with Baton Rouge pest control professionals if you believe the repeated tapping sounds coming from the rafters are deathwatch beetles.
False Powderpost Beetles
False powderpost beetles are reddish brown to black in coloring. Unlike other species, the adults drill into the wood to lay eggs, leaving behind a hole larger than one-eighth of an inch in diameter. After the larvae mature into adults and emerge, the exit holes do not contain the powdery frass, but the galleries and tunnels inside the wood do. The frass tends to stick together and is compacted.
Round-Headed Borers or Longhorn Beetles
These beetles tend to infest dead or dying trees, though a few species attack living trees. A frequent cause of indoor infestation occurs when firewood is brought in from the outside. The adults range in size from one-half to three inches long, and the larvae can be one-half to four inches in length. Most species can be characterized by their long antennae while just a few species have short antennae. Some of the species also mimic the coloring of wasps, ants and bees; however, most of the species have coloring that matches their environment. Contacting a Baton Rouge pest control service can help you identify the species of round-headed borer or longhorn you are dealing with.
Assessing Active Infestations and Inactive Infestations
Knowing whether your lumber is actively infested is an important step in addressing your wood damage. Sometimes, an infestation can die out without your intervention. Chances are you are dealing with an active infestation if the color of the frass resembles fresh cut wood. If the exit holes look weathered and match the rest of the wood, it’s more likely that the infestation is an old one. If your wood is in an area with some air movement, the very presence of any wood tailings can be a sign of a recent infestation. Conversely, if your wood is in an area that has not been disturbed recently, a layer of film or dust over the frass can indicate a dead infestation. One way to check if you have an active infestation is to remove the frass and recheck the area in a few days. If there are new piles, you could have an active infestation. It’s important to remember that most active emergences occur through the months of April to July.
Determining whether you have an active or inactive infestation can be a difficult assessment to make on your own. Pest control professionals can assess the wood damage to see if the larvae are still present.
Prevention and Treatment Strategies
Preventing powderpost beetle infestations before they begin can save you trouble down the road. If you have yet to make a lumber purchase, inspect it for signs of infestation. The following are tips that can help discourage infestation if you’ve already bought the lumber:
Finding the bored-out holes and wood damage from powderpost beetles can be a distressing experience. Given enough time, these pests can cause a considerable amount damage to your home and property. However, by following a few preventative maintenance tips, you can lessen the chances of wood damage from a powderpost beetle infestations. If, however, you’re facing an infestation beyond your expertise, contact a pest control company today.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.