bugs that destroy wood

Catch of the Week: Powder Post Beetles

March 14, 2019

We recently visited a new house in Ankeny, the homeowners spotted some wood damage within their home. After our Des Moines pest experts inspected the areas of concern, we determined these homeowners had powder post beetles nesting within the wood and causing the damage. Find out more about this lesser-known pest and how you can spot an infestation.

What You Need to Know About Powder Post Beetles

Powder post beetles are one of the worst wood-damaging insects, second to termites. Since these are small pests that avoid light and enter wood through tiny little holes, they can easily cause damage while going unnoticed. The powder post beetle is small, brown and about ¼ inch in length.

These insects burrow into wood to lay their eggs within the interior, leaving a small opening only around 1/8 inch in diameter that looks like a perfectly drilled hole. Once the beetles are below the surface, they dig tunnels within the wood, weakening its core and potentially causing harmful damage, depending on how long they inhabit the wood. The life cycle of the powder post beetle can be up to six years, and if they stay in one place these insects will hollow out and ruin the wood’s interior.

How do powder post beetles get inside?

This insect typically breed in dead and dried hardwoods, such as dead tree branches and limbs. Powder post beetles make their way indoors when they lay their eggs in stored lumber, finished wood, cabinets or furniture that gets brought inside the home. It is difficult to treat these pests once they’re inside a home because most woodwork has various finishes applied. These finishes make it virtually impossible to treat the wood for these beetles.

In the Ankeny home we visited, there’s a couple ways the infestation could have happened. Either the kiln didn’t heat the wood properly (stored lumber should be kiln dried before use to terminate any wood-inhabiting pests) or the beetles infested the wood during storage and were unknowingly brought into the home when constructing the house. We could not treat the finished wood, so the only next step we could recommend was to replace the affected steps.

It’s difficult to spot an infestation until the damage has been done to the wood and you notice the tiny burrow holes with the dusty powder left behind on the outside. Adult powder post beetles will emerge from the nest within the wood throughout the spring and summer months, so this is when homeowners will most likely notice an insect problem.

Other Insects That Damage Wood

Termites. The most well-known and destructive wood destroying bug is termites. These pests go unnoticed within a home’s foundation and can cause massive and costly damages. Termites multiply quickly, so if you spot any termite signs or have any suspicions of wood damage, make sure you contact an exterminator immediately!

Carpenter Bees. This common summer pest is most likely to be found on your porch or deck. These insect’s behaviors are very similar to the powder post beetle - the carpenter bee also drills perfect little holes into wood and lays their eggs in the tunnels they burrow within the exterior. To see how our bee exterminators treat this problem, check out our past Catch of the Week video!

Carpenter Ants. These pests can also be brought into the home while they are burrowed within wood. Unlike the powder post beetle, carpenter ants are attracted to damp and rotting wood, so they are commonly noticed by homeowners near a garage or shed that could have damp wood.

Des Moines Rat Removal

If you notice any wood damage inside your home or you’d like to be safe and schedule an inspection, contact the experts at Preferred Pest Control! Call us at (515) 415-5550 or schedule an appointment online. Get in touch with our Des Moines pest control company today.

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