Wood Boring Beetles
Much like termites the wood boring beetle fall into three main groups:
- False powderpost
We find wood boring beetles in our homes, commercial buildings or in any wood framed type structure, even boats. Many times we find wood boring beetles in the furniture in our homes. I had one client in Santa Barbara. She would go for walks along the beach. She loved to collect small pieces of driftwood and then bring these pieces home and place them as decorative wood inside her home. Then one day she saw a big pile of fine powder coming out of one of the legs of her grand piano, the adjacent wall paneling and a piece of driftwood she picked up on the beach last year. I bet you get the picture. She had a real problem.
The larvae of the wood boring beetle causes the majority of the damage to wood they have infested. As the beetle larvae reaches adult stage they emerge through small round exit holes that they have created by chewing through the wood surface. Side note; Wood Boring Beetles do not do very well chewing though hard paints, they get their mandibles stuck in the paint.
It is very important to have an inspector that has a good knowledge of all the varieties of wood boring beetles. I see young inspectors call out a dry-wood termite infestation when in fact it was Wood boring beetles. Sometimes it can be hard to tell drywood termite droppings from Wood Boring Beetles.
The inspector needs to look very close. Some species of adult Wood Boring Beetles have been known to bore holes in sheetrock and other materials. Wood-boring beetles in the forest begin their life cycles on declining trees and then move to our lumber yards. Every time I go to the lumber yard I find wood boring beetles and dry-wood termites along with fungus infection infesting boards that the unaware public is buying and installing into there weekend home project. You should always give any wood you buy a good look over even special milled wood products like hardwood flooring or even cabinets and custom doors and windows.
I get calls from people that have had new hard wood flooring installed only to find out that it was all infested with wood boring beetles requiring all the new flooring be removed from the home a TENT FUMIGATION be completed to kill any beetles that may have infested other areas of the home.
Powderpost Wood Boring Beetles
This fine powdery (frass) distinguishes powderpost beetles from other wood-boring beetles. It also differs from the larger, granular, and almost pepper like pellets of the drywood termite.
The Lyctidae Wood Boring Beetle is mostly known as the powderpost beetles, because larvae creates a fine dust like powder called (frass) that has the consistency of flour or talcum powder. This boring dust is packed into the larval galleries (feeding channels) in the wood but occasionally falls out of exit holes into small piles on floors or other surfaces. This is one way the inspector can know if he is looking at a live active infestation or an old infestation that has no live beetles and may need treatment or fumigation. It is very important for the inspector to know these signs and what to look for. See our short video for some good images.
Deathwatch Wood Boring Beetles
The Deathwatch beetles is said to get its name by tapping its heads against side of the wood usually at night. It is said that the tapping of the Deathwatch beetle reminds people of someone on their death bed during the night.
Deathwatch beetles primarily infest softwoods like Douglas fir used in the framing under the our homes like girders, beams, foundation timbers.
You will typically find this beetle in old wood or wood that is partially decayed. Deathwatch beetles prefer wood that is damp much like the North Coast area of Sonoma County CA.
Adults are reddish to dark brown and lay eggs in crevices, small openings, or pores of unfinished wood. It can take 2 years to complete each generation.
False Powderpost Beetles
Wood-boring beetles in the family Bostrichidae are sometimes known as false powderpost beetles. False powderpost beetles like many types of hardwoods and sometimes softwoods. Tropical species of Bostrichidae frequently are imported into the United States on bamboo articles or on woods such as Philippine mahogany or lauan.
Again new furniture always requires a close look. Do you see any small holes or powered? Better get it checked out.
Unlike female powderpost and deathwatch beetles, which lay their eggs while on the wood surface, false powderpost beetle females bore a tunnel, or egg gallery into wood or other materials then deposit their eggs in pores or cracks within the tunnel. Larvae of false powderpost beetles pack their galleries tunnels with very tightly pact frass that has the consistency of coarse powder. The texture of this frass is the most gritty of the three groups and distinguishes false powderpost beetles from true powderpost beetles and deathwatch beetles.
We can even find beetles infesting wine barrels. I have been told by some wine makers that the best wines come out of barrels that have a infestation. Some wine makers call these little guys the barrel beetles.
Proper treatment of wood-boring beetles always starts with a proper identification of the type of wood boring beetle and/or Dry-wood termite.