Occasional Invaders

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True Powderpost Beetle

true-powderpost-beetle-bug-book

Color

The adult powderpost beetle is reddish-brown to black. The larva is nearly white.

Characteristics

Adult has a long, narrow, flat body with sides almost parallel. Larva is C-shaped, with enlarged thorax, short 4-segmented antennae, and legs with long claws. The term "powderpost" comes from the fact that the larvae of these beetles feed on wood and, given enough time, can reduce it to a mass of fine powder, which makes them easy to identify.

Where Found

Around the world; about 11 species in the United States.

Habitat

King of the Forest. Kind of. True powderpost beetles make their homes in the sapwood of hardwoods, such as oak, hickory, ash and other natives (as well as tropical species, such as bamboo), that are usually less than 10 years old.

Food

Wood cell contents: mostly starch, with some sugar and protein.

Biology

Adults are active at night, fly well, and are attracted to light. The female lays (15-50) eggs in exposed wood pores, cracks and crevices, but never on wood that is painted, polished or waxed. Development time from egg to adult is 9-12 months, but can be as little as 3-4 months, or as long as a few years.

Damage

Big fans of hardwood floors. Lyctids attack lumber and manufactured products. They also attack structural timbers, although hardwoods are not often used today for this purpose. Eggs and larvae enter via unfinished infested wood during seasoning or storage, and can literally turn it to powdered dust.

Good Riddance

You can spot powderpost beetles by the small perfectly round exit holes they leave, the piles of very fine powdery dust (think talcum powder but not nearly as pleasing), and the presence of emerging adults in late winter/early spring.

Have a professional inspection to determine activity. If infestation is active, a licensed technician can control by:

  • Localized pesticide application, surface or injection.
  • Replacement of wood.
  • Fumigation.