Holes in Hardwoods? Could be Powderpost Beetles

By Chris Williams on January 30, 2011.
Q. A technician from a pest control company told us that the holes in our hardwood floor were made by powderpost beetles. Are they going to infest our whole house?
A. Not very likely. There are three different types of powderpost beetle but you are most likely talking about the lyctid powderpost beetle. It attacks unfinished hardwoods and is the most important pest of hardwood flooring, furniture, window frames, and trim. Beetles that are in hardwood floors were usually already in the wood before it was built into the house. Their development time (egg to adult) usually takes less than a year but can be up to 4 years, depending on the wood and environmental conditions.
The tiny beetle lays eggs on the wood, and the larvae that hatch bore into the wood where they feed and tunnel. Once they are mature, they turn into adult beetles and bore out of the wood through tiny, round exit holes. This emergence usually happens in late spring. The holes, and the flour-like frass that sifts out of them, are often the first indication that you have powderpost beetles.
The term “powderpost” came from the severe damage that these beetles can cause. In heavy infestations, the inner portion of the wood is eventually converted to a mass of powdery or pelleted frass held together by a thin outer shell of wood which is penetrated by numerous exit holes. But relax…this kind of damage only happens when infestations have continued overlooked for many years, usually in abandoned buildings. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the beetles though.
Have a pest control company address the problem because the emerging adult beetles could lay eggs in the floor again or on other hardwood items in your home. Hardwoods that have been waxed, painted, or sealed have some protection from powderpost beetles. And, if your home is centrally heated, has adequate ventilation and no moisture problems, and is not closed up for long periods, the chances that another generation of powderpost beetles could survive in wood are low.
Look for more information about powderpost beetles in our website’s Pest Library



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