Powderpost beetle is a term used to describe several species of small, wood boring insects which reduce wood to a fine, flour-like powder. Damage is done by the larvae as they create narrow, meandering tunnels in wood as they feed. Powederpost beetles eat the starchy part of the wood in which they dwell. They don’t eat lignin or cellulose as they are not able to produce cellulase.
Infestations are discovered after noticing small, round exit holes in the wood surface. These are where adult beetles have chewed out of the wood after completing their development.
Items that can be infested by powder post beetles include wooden tools or tool handles, frames, furniture, gun stocks, books, toys, bamboo, flooring and structural timbers. You are more likely to see damage than the actual beetle as the adults are short lived and are active mainly at night.
Since tunneling and development of the larvae takes place below the wood surface, the only signs of an infestation are the exit holes made by the adults and the powder-like pellets falling from the holes. Once they emerge, the winged adults spread to other wood surfaces where they deposit eggs onto unfinished surfaces or in cracks or other openings. They also tend to fly toward light, so you may typically find dead adults on window sills after they have tried to disperse.
Powderpost beetles damage wood slowly; and you should not feel as though you must act immediately in order to preserve the structural integrity of your home. Powderpost beetles attack hardwoods because these woods have pores into which they can lay their eggs.
Powderpost beetles have a life cycle ranging from 3 months to more than 1 year, depending on temperature, humidity and nutritional quality of the wood. They leave infested wood from late in the winter through the early summer months. Powderpost beetles take anywhere from a few months to several years to finish one generation.
What makes powderpost beetles so potentially damaging is their ability to repeatedly infest relatively dry, seasoned wood over many years and many generations of beetles.