WDO Identification: Wood-Boring Beetles

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Although wood-boring beetles are not one of the most common wood destroying organisms in Southern California they are found in wood members of houses and structures as well as in furniture both old and new. During the process of your WDO/Termite Inspection your GC Inspector will look for any signs of activity and/or infestations from this structural pest. After a very close evaluation a proper treatment method will be recommended. Usually the damage can be repaired by replacing the lumber and/or treating the members with borates.

There are three main types of wood-boring beetles which include: Powder post Beetle, Deathwatch Beetle and the False Powder post Beetle. Here are many signs that can help identify the different kinds of wood-boring beetle.

  • PowderPost Beetle
    • Leaves behind a fine, powder-like frass made out of a mixture of feces and wood fragments.
    • Two main families which are Lyctidae and Anobiidae.
    • Lyctidae  Family
      • Likes to infest hardwoods as they lay their eggs into wood pores that are only found on hardwoods and not in softwoods.
      • They prefer dry wood with a moisture content of as low as 8%
      • Infestation is usually to new furniture or structures as they rarely infest anything older than 5 years.
    • Anobiidae Family
      • Will infest both softwoods and hardwoods and can be found in places where PowderPost Beetles from the Lyctidae family are seen as well.
      • Prefer to infest wood that is moist like the one found in sub areas.
      • Infestation is usually done on structures older than 5 years and develops at a slow rate but re-infestation can occur every year.
    • They have a life span that varies from one(1) years to five (5) years.
    • Damage is usually created during the night time which makes seeings very rare. Damage will be the primary indication of an infestation.
  • Deathwatch Beetle
    • Like to infest soft woods like Douglas Fir which is the most common type used in the construction of residences and structures in Southern California.
    • Makes a clicking sound when boring old wood or furniture by hitting it’s jaws to the sides of the tunnels he is creating, this is used as a mating call as well.
    • Likes old moist wood members with at least 14% moisture content
    • Adult size varies from 3/64 to 23/64 in with a cylindrical shape.
    • Larvae can bore wood as well.
    • They leave behind very small pellets of frass which are smaller than the common drywood termite pellets.
  • False PowderPost Beetle
    • Prefers hardwoods but will infest some softwoods as well.
    • Rounded exit holes with a diameter of around 1/8 to 1/4 in (2.5 to 7 mm) that pour out piles of powdery frass with no pellets.
    • It’s damage is usually to wood members that have been previously damaged by other insects, moisture or lightning.
    • Adult size can vary greatly they have been found to be in length from 1/8 to 7/32 in and a width from 1/16 to 5/64 in with a cylindrical shape and a dark brown to black color.
    • Have an average life span of one (1) year, although there are many that live two (2) years and some rare ones that struggle to get to three (3) years.
    • Very rare in the United States. Have a professional take a look at the area for an appropriate recommendation.

Gilberto A. Cortez
California Licensed Operator and Contractor

One thought on "WDO Identification: Wood-Boring Beetles"

  1. Billy says:

    Interesting post. In Oklahoma we deal with many beetles that can be wood destroying. We also see many infestations of Carpet Beetles. Although the typical pest control company will look for Termites on their Wood Destroying Insect Report not many are trained to find other pests like these. Thanks for the good information as I’m always reading interesting blogs about the pest control industry and termites or termite treatment, control and inspection services.

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