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Powder Post Beetles

This term is used in the broad sense but it encompasses three closely-related families: the Lyctid or true powder post beetle, the Bostricid or false powder post beetle and the Anobiid or Deathwatch beetle.

The beetle cycle begins when an adult lays an egg. The eggs hatch into larva. The larva eat the wood and digest it. The larva turns into pupa. Finally, the adult emerges to mate and the cycle repeats. Wood destroying beetles are usually transported in building materials, furniture and other wood products. The most common evidence of a powder post beetle infestation is a talcum powder-like substance know as frass. This frass falls from exit holes made by the beetles. An active infestation will reveal brilliant white frass (a color similar to that of sawdust from a freshly cut Christmas tree). Yellow to brown frass indicates an inactive or dormant infestation.

Treatment – Fumigation

If the inspector suspects that a powder post beetle infestation extends into concealed areas or is at numerous locations, they may suggest a tent fumigation.

A fumigation involves placing the entire structure in gas-tight tarpalulin, releasing the gas inside the seal, and aerating the fumigant after. A fumigation for beetles is extremely costly since, unlike Drywood termite fumigations, ten times the amount of the fumigant must be used to ensure the beetle is eliminated. Before fumigation can occur, the homeowner must remove all plants and animals, remove or place food items inside special protective bags, and stay out of the house a three-day period. Again, while tent fumigations are more expensive and inconvenient for the homeowner, if done properly, they ensure the elimination all detected and undetected beetles.

Treatment – Borate

If the inspector suspects that the powder post beetle infestation is confined to a local area, they may suggest using borates. This involves drilling small hole in which borates are injected or applied (using spray or foam applications) to the surface at the area of infestation.

Treatment – Wood Injection

Another local treatment involves wood injection. This method involves drilling holes which an termiticide is injected. This chemical will remain active in the wood after treatment to thwart resurgent colonies.

Treatment – Wood Replacement

If a powder post beetle infestation is isolated to a wood member which can be easily replaced or detached, the inspector may simply suggest wood replacement.

If there is any indication that there are galleries leading to adjacent wood members, treatment or removal of those wood members is required.