How to Bug Proof Your Home: Wood-Boring Beetles

Pest Management In and Around Structures May 20, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF

Introduction

The most common wood boring beetles can be classed in three groups: the true powderpost beetle, the false powder beetle, and the deathwatch beetle. Attack by these pests is characterized by small to medium sized holes (around 1/32 to 1/4 inch in diameter) in the infested wood where adult beetles have exited.

Between these three beetles, any wood in the home can be attacked and one other species known as the leadcable borer is capable of boring through lead cable coverings, causing electrical damage.

If you live in an older home (>25 years) that contains a sub-area crawl space, it is highly recommended to have your home inspected for the presence of wood destroying organisms, which would include visible evidence of woodboring beetles.

Prevention

  1. Look for woodworm activity in any wooden artifacts or lumber introduced into the home. If the wood is infested, holes will be present with accompanying piles of fine powder.
  2. Cover wood surfaces with paint, polyurethane or water sealants. This will protect wood from moisture problems and help prevent the beetles from penetrating the wood. For aging wood, first sand down any cracks or other entrance points before covering.
  3. Although expensive, installation of a central heating and air conditioning unit may help chronically infested buildings. With the advent of such systems, the cases of beetle damage have been dramatically reduced and significant problems are not likely, even with the more serious beetle pests.
  4. Correct lumber moisture problems commonly found in the crawl spaces. The crawl space should be well ventilated and have a vapor barrier. Plastic sheets can also be installed to keep the lumber from getting too moist.
  5. There are a few effective insecticides that can be applied to unvarnished wood by brush or a hand held pump sprayer. It is particularly appropriate for extensive use in the case of log homes. Some of these insecticides will also help in the prevention of carpenter ants, carpenter bees, termites, fungus and wood rot.

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.