How Do You Get Rid of Powderpost Beetles?
When it comes to insects who love to destroy the wood in houses, termites aren’t the only ones to worry about. While they may win the award for most nightmares given to new homeowners, there are a number of other wood-munching pests that can completely destroy a house if left unchecked. One such pest is the powderpost beetle.
Powderpost beetles are the second-most common wood-eating pest homeowners have to grapple with, yet many people don’t even know what they are. Discover what powderpost beetles are, what an infestation looks like, and how to get rid of them.
What Are Powderpost Beetles?
Powderpost beetles are very small insects that feed on wood, turning that wood into a powdery substance. Like many pests, these beetles are rarely seen by homeowners because of their size and because they are generally more active at night.
When the powderpost beetle hatches from its egg, its first order of business is to begin boring holes through the wood they were laid in, eating as it goes. After it reaches adulthood, the beetle will then eat its way out of the wood to mate, lay eggs, and let nature reset the cycle. Infested wood will not only have the powdery substance around it, but it will also have tiny holes left by the adult beetles.
Unlike termites, these guys aren’t picky at all about the type of wood they live in. Of course, they would love to live in and eat wet softwood like termites and other wood-eating insects. That isn’t to say they won’t chow down on hardwood if given the chance, but they are more likely to make their homes in the walls of an old, damp basement than a brand-new balcony or deck.
These beetles are only between 1/4 inch and 1/8 inch in size, making them hard to see for someone who is not specifically looking for them. You’re most likely to encounter them in person at nighttime, but what’s most noticeable with powderpost beetles is the destruction they leave in their wake.
What Are Signs of a Powderpost Beetle Infestation?
The most common sign of a powderpost beetle infection is a powdery substance found around untreated wooden objects, like subflooring and joists. This dust comes from the tunnels that the beetle larva bore through the wood as they grow, which then falls out of the hole created by the adult beetle.
These tiny holes in wood surfaces are another sure sign of a powderpost beetle infection. Once the adults emerge from the holes, they will mate and lay eggs on the untreated wood, and those new larvae will start the process again.
It’s important to remember that holes in wood and powdery dust nearby are also signs of a terminate infestation. If you haven’t seen the powderpost beetles yourself, it’s worth getting an expert’s opinion on what’s going on in your home.
How to Prevent Powderpost Beetle Infestations
Most home inspectors will be on the lookout for powderpost beetles, just like they are with termites, making it easier to spot them before you move into your new home. One thing you can do if you’re worried about beetles before buying your home is to make sure that you have a clause for beetles (and other pests!) in your home warranty.
However, if you’ve lived in the same home for a long time, it’s easy to miss the signs of an infestation. The next thing you know, you’ve got powderpost beetle holes in your reclaimed barnwood bedroom door!
You can take a number of steps to stop this from happening before it starts, though. The best way to prevent powderpost beetle infestations is to treat your wood so that it’s not somewhere they want to lay their eggs. This can be done in a few ways, including:
- Varnishing or painting unfinished wood
- Purchasing kiln-dried lumber
- Storing wood in low-moisture areas
- Skipping reclaimed wood for home projects
However, despite your best efforts and intentions, you may still have beetle infestations in the future. If this happens, just like with termites, it’s important to get rid of these pests as soon as possible. Whether you decide to tackle the project yourself or call a professional, though, is up to you.
How Do You Get Rid of Powderpost Beetles?
So, you think you might have powderpost beetles living rent-free in your home. While you might feel panicked and you may be considering burning the house down and moving on with your life, take a breath. It’ll be okay!
There are a few ways to get rid of powderpost beetles. From home remedies to professional solutions like fumigation, your situation isn’t hopeless.
The first thing you need to do, however, is to figure out if you are dealing with an active infestation or if the powder and holes you’re finding in your wood are from a previous one. This is one of the easiest parts of the process of fixing the damage caused by these insects.
Determining If An Infestation is Active
One way to do this is to sweep up any of the powder found near where you suspect the infestation. Check on it in a day or two, and if there is new powder there, you have an active infestation on your hands.
Another way to check for an active infestation is to seal the holes you see in the wood and check back later to see if new ones have appeared.
Once you’ve determined if the infestation is active, you can then decide on which steps to take to get rid of the powderpost beetles that are destroying your wood.
Powderpost Beetle Home Remedies
Powderpost beetles have been known pests for a long time, which means there are a number of home remedies out there that people swear by. Like most home remedies, some work much better than others, so take them with a grain of salt and understand your mileage may vary. Some of the more common remedies for getting rid of powderpost beetles are:
- Changing the temperature. If possible, move the infested wood to either an extremely cold or an extremely hot environment. The dramatic temperature change can potentially kill powderpost beetles.
- Borate salt. Borate salt is one of the more common natural remedies for pests of this nature. Salt the area where you suspect an infestation. This is most effective when used on thinner wood.
- Essential oils. Powderpost beetles have been known to avoid certain essential oils like eucalyptus and cedar. It’s important to note that these oils can sometimes damage wood, as well.
- Removing the infected wood. When all else fails, the last resort is often removing and replacing the infected wood. This can be on the expensive side of things, especially if they’re in loadbearing walls.
If your infestation happens to be in lumber you’ve purchased for a project, like for home renovation purposes, you should return it to the store or sawmill for an exchange, but be careful to inspect new lumber for holes. You should also double-check that the wood has been treated in a kiln, as well, which kills adults, larvae, and eggs.
Professional Powderpost Beetle Removal
If you don’t have the time (or patience) for home remedies, it’s time to call in the professionals.
Professional exterminators are definitely going to be more expensive than do-it-yourself remedies when it comes to getting rid of any pest. But it should be noted that with that expense comes the peace of mind of hiring someone who knows what they’re doing. This can help ease your mind a bit when you’re already stressed out about having a beetle infestation.
Professional exterminators may recommend fumigating your house. Fumigating a home can cost thousands of dollars, but it’s the most foolproof way to kill powderpost beetles, and any other pest you might have hiding in your home.
One thing to note about fumigating to remove powderpost beetles is that normal fumigation may not get rid of the beetles’ eggs. This is because they have a protective casing that may require a higher concentration of fumigation chemicals. Nevertheless, a professional exterminator will know the best course of action.
Final Thoughts on Getting Rid of Powderpost Beetles
An infestation of any kind is distressing for a homeowner, but it’s not the end of the world. If you can identify the problem before it gets too out of control, a powderpost beetle infestation can be handled with minimal damage to both your home and your wallet.
Some things are just better left to the professionals. At Pest Extinct, we’ve been dealing with these creepy-crawly pets for years. Contact us today to get a free quote on getting rid of your powderpost beetle problem.