Just as damaging as termites and once greatly feared as an omen of unavoidable death, the powder post beetle is certainly a formidable foe to contend with. But sifting through myths and facts can be difficult when it comes to this common pest, which makes it even more tough to get rid of.
Powder post beetles are known to ravage furniture, building structures, barns and sheds. They can even wreak havoc on newly built homes, decks and trees.
Unfortunately, the powder post beetle is often mistaken for other wood boring pests, which often leads to improper treatment and prolonged damage in the long run.
So, how do you identify a true powder post beetle problem and get rid of it for good? That’s what we are here to talk about today. Join us as we learn more about the powder post beetle, how to identify a powder post beetle infestation, and how to effectively get rid of this damaging pest using methods and products that really work.
Let’s get started.
What Is The Powder Post Beetle?
Powder post beetles are several species of wood destroying beetles.
Often called wood beetles or powderpost beetles, the powder post beetle is a term used to describe upwards of 70 species of wood boring beetle throughout the world. There are four common powder post beetle species you should be aware of, as they are the most active and typically most responsible for damage to homes, sheds, furnitures and structures.
These beetles include:
Lyctid Powderpost Beetles
Also known as true powderpost beetles, the Lytic insect is commonly found feeding and breeding on dead or dying hardwood. They prefer lumbar, dead trees, and old antique furniture. These are true species of powder post beetles and their larvae are most commonly to blame for the heaviest damage.
Anobiid Powder post Beetles
If you are dealing with a powder post beetle infestation in your home, then you are most likely dealing with Anobiid powder post beetles. These insects are the most commonly found powder post beetles in the United states and prefer both hardwood and softwood.
They can be found in furniture, flooring, sidings, sheds, wood piles, chairs, benches, cabinets, tables, and more. Because of their appetite for furniture woods specifically, the Anobiid powder beetle is often known as the furniture beetle.
False Powder Post Beetles (Bostrichidae)
While not a true powder post beetle, these are wood boring beetles that infest similar items as their above beetle counterparts including furniture, hardwood floors, paneling, wood piles, and more. They are larger than the other beetles above, and the holes they leave behind in wood are thus larger as well.
The Deathwatch Beetle
The Deathwatch beetle derived its name from back when folks stayed up late at night and could hear its tapping inside the walls. This sound was thought to be a particularly bad omen of death, especially for those tending to the aging or the ill.
In truth, the deathwatch beetle prefers moist wood and is generally found in damp basements, crawlspaces, attics and cellars where humidity is rich and their damage often goes unnoticed until it is severe.
Regardless of which type of powder post beetle above you have encountered, the damage and treatments for this damage are generally the same. However, if you are not dealing with a powder post beetle or wood boring beetle species and are instead dealing with carpenter ants or termites, the treatment can be different.
This is why it’s so important to be able to conclusively identify what you are dealing with before devising a treatment plan. Keep reading.
How To Identify A Powder Post Beetle Problem?
Often the first sign of a powder post beetle infestation are holes in wood and powder-like sawdust.
Because their damage can look similar to the damage caused by other pests like termites, carpenter ants, and even carpenter bees, wood boring beetles like the powder post beetle often get misdiagnosed, which prolongs proper treatment and may lead to more damage.
So, how do you know for sure you are dealing with a powder post beetle as opposed to another wood boring pest?
Adult powder post beetles generally measure between 1/8th and 3/8ths of a inch in length. They look like true beetles and, depending on the species, can be brown, reddish brown, or black. Many species of adult powder post beetles can fly and are even attracted to light.
Homeowners with homes rich in powder post beetles may find adults fluttering around porch lights or other lights at night in and around their homes. However, it is not the adult powder post beetle that causes the most damage. Furthermore, you are not likely to identify a powder post beetle just by seeing one.
Powder post beetles are nocturnal and shifty and are rarely seen during the day. And while adult powder post beetles feed on wood, it’s their larvae you should be worried about. Larvae, or woodworms, of adult powder post beetles are generally the most damaging. Female powder post beetles bore small holes into the wood and lay their eggs, which hatch and feed on the wood around them for anywhere from a month to several years.
The larvae of powder post beetles feed on the sugar, starch, and sap inside the wood and can cause serious structural damage and deformities.
The easiest way to identify a powder post beetle infestation is by the sawdust they produce, as shown in this video.
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Unlike termites and other wood boring pests who create jagged wood waste due to their digging, powder post beetles create a powder form of sawdust indicative of their name. This fine dust, known as frass, is the key identifier in new powder post beetle infestations.
New powder post beetle infestations often have this powdery sawdust sifting from the small, pinpoint holes made in the infested wood.
These holes are generally the size and shape of the tip of a sharpened pencil. Old powder post beetle holes will be dry, aged, and dust free. However, new and active powder post beetle holes will have frass sawdust in or around the edges.
But how did you get powder post beetle damage and why did they choose your home, furniture or shed? Let’s find out below.
What Is The Powder Post Beetle Attracted To?
Adult powder post beetles (a) are attracted to woods they can lay their eggs in, which then hatch into wood-eating larvae (c).
Most common species of the powder post beetle are attracted to moist woods, wet woods, or old, decaying wood. While different species can be attracted to different types of woods from softwood to hardwood, it is commonly found that these pests prefer woods rich in at least 20% of moisture.
Many powder post beetles infest areas like crawlspaces, basements, and attics but they are also commonly found in antique furniture, lumbar piles, dead or dying trees, garden sheds, and along your home’s siding.
While powder post beetles can infest a number of types of woods, they prefer:
- And Other Sapwoods/Softwoods
But how did you get powder post beetles inside your home? Most people who have a powder beetle infestation in their homes get them by way of human travel.
This could mean that wood previously infested with powder post beetle larvae was brought into your home while the home was being constructed, or you unknowingly brought infested furniture into your home.
How To Get Rid The Powder Post Beetle- Most Popular Methods
Getting rid of powderpost beetles can require a number of methods from getting rid of infested wood to using insecticides.
There are a few different methods you can use to get rid of powder post beetles, with some being more effective than others. Some of these methods include natural remedies, home remedies, insecticides, and professional help.
One of the easiest ways to rid yourself of a powder post beetle infestation is to get rid of the infested wood. Of course, this is not always practical or cost effective. In this case, we recommend using one of the methods listed below.
For anyone looking or organic forms of pest control, using natural methods to get rid of powder post beetles is ideal. Best of all, natural methods are often very effective and, in some cases, recommended by experts.
Some natural forms of powder post beetle control include natural dusts, sprays, and even ultrasonic pest repellers.
Home remedies can work well in conjunction with other methods of pest control on this list, but may not work on their own in a very large powder post beetle infestation. That said, there are some common household ingredients many people swear by that can help repel and reduce damage caused by the powder post beetle, which we will cover further down.
There are several dust insecticides and sprays designed to control and eradicate a powder post beetle infestation. While insecticides are an effective form of pest control, they are not always ideal as they contain harsh chemicals and ingredients that can be toxic to people and pets and often require careful use.
In the case of a very severe powder post beetle infestation, professionals may need to be called. While powder post beetles are not physically dangerous to people or pets, they can cause serious structural damage to homes that can be dangerous in the long run. If you feel you cannot eradicate your powder post beetle infestation on your own, it may be time to contact the pros.
On the other hand, if you’re ready to begin tackling this problem right now, let’s talk about some of the ways to go about doing so. Keep reading.
How To Get Rid Of The Powder Post Beetle Using Natural Methods
Borax powder is a natural occurring chemical commonly used to get rid of pests like powder post beetles.
If you’re interested in organic forms of pest control for how to get rid of a powder post beetle infestation, then this is the section for you. The powder post beetle can be eradicated using a combination of products and natural ingredients often sold over the counter and even recommended by many experts.
Are you wondering which natural product would work best for you to help you get rid of a powder post beetle infestation in your home? We have listed some of our favorite natural products for you to take a look at below.
Rockwell BorActin Insect Dust
Boric acid is a naturally derived chemical that is often used in insect dusts and other pest removal products. It is generally safe for people, pets and the environment when used as directed and can help repel and kill a number of pests from termites to powder post beetles.
To use this product effectively, the above dust should be directly applied to the affected wood. It can be used on old wood as well as new construction and used as a treatment as well as a preventative for powder post beetles, ants, waterbugs, roaches, silverfish and more.
Tall Earth Eco-Safe Wood Guard
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This Eco-Safe Wood Guard is a non-toxic product that is safe for people, pets and the environment. It is made to penetrate the wood it is applied to and works after one application to prevent and control infestations from wood destroying beetles, carpenter ants, termites, carpenter bees, and more. It can also reduce wood rot and fungus growth.
The product is safe to use both indoors and out and can be used on a number of wood products including furniture, decks, siding, fences, panels, framing and more.
Any product containing borax powder will work well for getting rid of the powder post beetle and many other pests. It is also often used as a household detergent and cleaner. It is safe for people, pets and the environment and can be used in its pure form on wood to help repel and kill pests like the powder post beetle and powder post beetle larvae.
The above order is a bag of pure borax powder and is not specifically designed for pest control. That said, in very large infestations this product may need to be used in conjunction with other pest control remedies like insecticides and home remedies.
Boric Acid Powder
Boric Acid absorbs moisture and is commonly used to kill pests like roaches, ants and other pests upon ingestion. It is a safe regiment you can use to repel and kill pests like the powder post beetle when applied directly to water-damaged wood or directly in powder post beetle holes.
The product helps absorb moisture and can dry out wet wood, making it less habitable to powder post beetles. While this is a safe and effective form of powder post beetle and other pest control, it may need to be used alongside other pest control remedies in order to effectively kill and eradicate a powder post beetle infestation for good.
MaxMoxie Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
Ultrasonic pest repellers like the one listed above are commonly used as a form of prevention to help reduce your chances of dealing with pest problems like wood beetles, rodents, bed bugs and more.
The above ultrasonic pest repeller can help repel not only powder post beetles but also mice, rats, roaches, flies, mosquitoes and wasps. That said, keep in mind that the product may not be able to eliminate or get rid of an infestation on its own and should be used alongside other pest control remedies.
Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer
Last but not least we have Diatomaceous Earth. This is a natural and organic compound derived from fossilized algae that dehydrates pests like powder post beetles, bed bugs, roaches, ants, and more by penetrating their exoskeleton.
This product can also help dry out moist wood and make certain types of wood less hospitable to pests like powder post beetles.
Diatomaceous earth is completely organic and safe for people, pets and the environment. That said, once it is wet it will need to be reapplied, so use it often when trying to eradicate powder post beetles in moist or water-damaged wood.
How To Get Rid Of The Powder Post Beetle Using Home Remedies
Borate salt can help dry out your wood and repel powder post beetles.
As we mentioned above, home remedies and do it yourself pest control methods can be a useful tactic to use in conjunction with other pest control products when tackling a powder post beetle infestation. That said, remember that a very large infestation may require more intensive treatments that home remedies cannot conquer.
Still, there are some wonderful and useful tools and ingredients you may already have in your home to help you get rid of a powder post beetle infestation, which we have listed below.
Get Rid Of The Infested Wood If Possible
Perhaps the easiest way to get rid of a powder post beetle infestation using home remedies is going to be removing the infested wood. Of course, this is not always possible or cost effective, in which case you can follow the other below remedies.
On the other hand, if getting rid of the infested wood is as simple as tossing out that old rocking chair or replacing a few panels of flooring or siding, this may be a quick and effective solution to your powder post beetle problems.
Essential Oils That Get Rid Of The Powder Post Beetle
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Basil oil
- Tarrog Oil
- Cedar Oil
- Lavender Oil
- Peppermint Oil
Essential oils have long been touted as rather wonderful and natural pest control remedies both inside and outside the home. You can use the above essential oils to repel and kill powder post beetles and their larvae.
While all of the above oils have been found effective, most experts agree that cedar oil is particularly useful as a contact killer when used directly on or in the holes of wood boring pests.
To use essential oils against the powder post beetle, you can drop several drops of whichever oil you choose directly into the holes you find to kill and repel adult powder post beetles and larvae.
Use Borate Salt
Borate salt is often used as a method for termite control. While it doesn’t kill powder post beetles on contact, it can be useful when used in conjunction with other methods and products to remove these pests as it effectively drys out wood, making it less desirable for the beetles and their larvae.
Air Dry Your Wood
If you have lumbar that has been damaged by water, try storing it in a safe, dry space for several months before inspecting it carefully for wood boring pests and certainly before bringing it back into your home. This process can be used on small wood pieces like furniture to large lumbar and sidings you wish to preserve.
How To Get Rid Of The Powder Post Beetle Using Insecticides
Permethrin (the chemical compound is shown above) is a popular insecticide used against wood destroying pests.
Insecticidal treatments may be required for very large powder post beetle infestations in your home. If you find that you need to use common insecticides, we suggest making sure you read the directions carefully and keep these products out of reach of children.
Remember, insecticides can be harmful to people, pets and the environment if not used as directed. It’s also important to make sure you are using the proper products that will effectively get rid of powder post beetles.
If you’re not sure which products would work best, we have listed a few below that are highly recommended by experts.
The above product is an insecticide specifically designed to kill and control wood-destroying pests like powder post beetles, termites, carpenter ants and more. It is made to be used directly on wood and can also help prevent and reduce moisture buildup and stop fungus growth.
The product is odorless and long lasting, but it must be mixed with water and applied correctly in order to work. While it should be safe for people and pets when used as directed, it should be kept out of reach of children.
Permethrin SFR Insecticide
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Permethrin is an insecticide chemical commonly used to manage a number of pest infestations. The above product is best used outdoors and can be used in sheds, barns, and around the perimeter of your home.
This product is professional grade and can be harmful to people, pets and the environment if not used properly. That said, it is an effective treatment for pests like termites, wood beetles, and garden pests.
Harris Termite Powder
The above termite powder by Harris is specifically designed to kill and control infestations of wood-destroying pests like carpenter ants, termites and powder post beetles. The product comes in a powder form and is designed to be mixed with water to make up to a gallon of pest control formula.
The formula can be addicted directly to wood and may be used as a preventative as well as a treatment for active infestations. While this product is effective, it uses toxic chemicals that can be harmful to people, pets and the environment and should be used only as directed.
Boracare is another product that uses boric acid to repel and kill pests like termites, carpenter ants, powder post beetles, and more. It can be used on a number of different woods and finishes and used both inside and outside of the home.
While boric acid is considered a natural ingredient, the above product can be dangerous for people and pets if not used as directed and should be kept out of reach of children.
How To Get Rid Of The Powder Post Beetle – When To Call A Professional
The above image shows damage caused by woodworms, which are the larvae of powder post beetles.
Getting rid of a powder post beetle infestation in furniture or in other portable or removable pieces of wood can be a piece of cake compared to getting rid of a large infestation of powder post beetles in your walls or along the siding of your home.
In these cases, you may find that fumigation and professional help are the best option in an effort to prevent more damage in the long run.
Most pest control experts charge anywhere from $100 to $500 depending on your location and the severity of your powder post beetle infestation. Once you have successfully gotten the infestation under control, you next focus should be on prevention.
How To Prevent A Future Powder Post Beetle Problem
You can prevent wood destroying pests by finishing wood with shellac or varnish.
When it comes to any form of pest control and management, experts agree that prevention is key. Because powder post beetles can procreate quite rapidly and cause an extensive amount of damage, it’s best to use preventatives frequently and a common form of pest control year-round to protect your home and lumbar.
Other ways you can go about protecting your home from a powder post beetle infestation are listed below:
Finish Your Wood
Unfinished wood is highly attractive to wood boring pests like termites, powder post beetles, carpenter ants, and the likes. You can help repel and reduce your chances of having powder post beetle eggs and larvae laid in your wood by finishing it using a paint, varnish or shellac. Doing this will also help protect wood against weather and water damage.
Inspect New Furniture Carefully
Before bringing new furniture or wood into your home, experts recommend doing a careful inspection. Look for any signs of wood damage like small holes, powder post beetle frass or dust, and any signs of larvae.
Reduce Moisture Buildup In Wood
Because powder post beetles are so attracted to moisture, try reducing the moisture buildup around and inside of your home. Keep wood moisture below 20% if possible, and repair any water leaks or water damage as soon as you notice it.
Air dry any wet or damaged wood in a safe, dry space away from your home, and do not bring it back into your home until you have inspected it for signs of a powder post beetle infestation.
Remove Any Old Wood In or Around Your Home
Old, decaying wood is a favorite for the powder post beetle. You can help reduce your chances of an infestation or prevent future infestations altogether by removing any unnecessary wood or lumber from around your home.
Remove old wood piles, debris, or dead or dying trees from your property. Make sure shed siding and barn woods are properly finished and sealed, and that excess moisture buildup around the siding of your home is dried and taken care of.
And remember, a powder post beetle infestation often isn’t discovered until damage has already occurred. So, make sure you are keeping your eyes open, staying vigilant, and being proactive to keep these pests from causing damage to your home or furniture in the future.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.