True Powder Post Wood Infesting Beetles

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True Powder Post Wood Infesting Beetles

Powder post beetles and other wood boring beetles are second to termites in the destruction of structures made from timber (wood). The most common of them in the United States are from the family Lyctidae from the order Coleoptera, regularly called the True Powder Post Beetles. They get their name from the powder-like fecal matter that its larval leaves behind when eating wood. Often this “powder” is one of the first noticeable signs of the infestation, which is being pushed out by emerging adults or simply falling out of the wood via the exit holed due to gravity.

Biology & Identification

Lyctid beetles on their larvae stage only attack hardwoods like maple, oak, ash, and hickory. Firewood is very commonly attacked and is as well one of the main ways in which beetles can get into the property. An infestation will begin when the female lays her eggs in the pores of the wood, by inserting her ovipositor to a depth between 3 to 6 millimeters. She can lay around 50 eggs and will take around 45 seconds on laying each one, usually in the Spring but it can occur year-round on the interior of structures. Eggs will take about 10 days to hatch, the larva will then proceed to exit the wood by eating its way out regularly following the grain of the lumber. As it reaches maturity, it will create a pupal chamber about 1/8” from the surface on which it will transform into an adult. Within 2 – 3 weeks it emerges as an adult beetle to continue the cycle, there may be multiple generations in one structure at any given time. Adult beetles can be identified by their small size (2 to 6 mm in length), their flatten shape and they are reddish brown to black color.


There are three (3) main methods of controlling Lyctid or Power Post Beetles:

  • Removing Infested Wood
    • Probably the most cost-effective and easier method to use if it is possible. If the infestation is on a small furniture item, maybe on the Oak baseboard or another similar item.
  • Surface Treatments
    • There are chemicals like Tim-Bor (Disodium Octaborate Tetrahydrate) that can be used for the treatment of wood-boring beetles. However, as the larva will normally not be exposed completely it can have a limited effect.
  • Structural Fumigation
    • If there is a major structural infestation, structural fumigation with Vikane can be used to control the problem. However, a major concentration of the fumigant will have to be used increasing the price of the process, this is done to ensure that the fumigant will penetrate the eggs ensuring freedom from the infestation.


One of the best ways of preventing infestations from Powder Post Beetles is by properly painting and sealing all lumber. One of the main factors of an infestation is that this type of beetles is usually seen on lumber that has over a 20% moisture content. If the lumber/timber is properly sealed then it will allow for lower moisture content. Preventive treatment with Tim-Bor (Disodium Octaborate Tetrahydrate) can as well be done on all exposed/unsealed wood like the one in the attic or crawl space area to protect it from an infestation.

If you believe that you have found a Powder Post / Lyctid Beetle infestation, do not hesitate to contact us and we will assist you with exterminating the problem by either of the 3 methods mentioned above. You can reach us at (619) 421 – 2101 or via our Contact Page.

As always please do let us know as well if you have any comment, concerns or questions about this or other wood destroying pests.

Gilberto A. Cortez
California Licensed Operator and Contractor

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