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Wood Borers, Carpenter ants & Acrobat ants
Perry's Termite Service & Repair
Pictured above- Carpenter ant damage
to a sliding glass door jamb.
Lyctid beetles (true powder-post beetles)
Anobiid beetles (furniture or deathwatch beetle)
Old house borer (mostly Mid-atlantic states)
Lyctids only attack hardwood (oak, hickory, ash, walnut or mahogany) because of its high starch content. The beetle
prefers dry wood (less than 10% moisture content). The reason for all the fine yellowish powder is that this beetle
cannot digest the wood but instead will utilize only the starch as the wood passes through its system and leaves its
system in a fine powdery mess, hence the name. This is a small reddish brown to black beetle that is under 1/3 inch in
Anobiids will attack both hard and softwoods. This beetle prefers wood with more moisture (more than 14%
moisture content). Unlike lyctids, this beetle does digest cellulose. This beetle is also reddish brown to dark brown and
adults are around 1/3 of an inch in length. There are a number of species of anobiids, however, the deathwatch beetle
is the most commonly encountered beetle and is normally found in poorly ventilated crawl spaces. If you encounter fine
powder with tiny pellets sifting from the floor or rim joists (in a crawlspace), then this beetle is likely the culprit.
Old house borers are typically found in the eastern united states. They attack primarily pine. This beetle is up to 1
inch in length and is grayish brown to black. The frass is made up of a very fine powder with tiny pellets mixed-in.
This borer is a frequent pest of new homes and has a life-cycle of 3-12 years. This beetle does digest cellulose.
False power-post beetles will attack mostly hardwoods but some species will attack softwoods. They rarely
attack or re-infest seasoned (dry) wood. These guys are also reddish-brown to black. The frass from this beetle is
easy to distinguish from frass of the others listed here because the frass is tightly packed and does not fall out
Non re-infesting wood borers-
Bark beetles- attack new (or freshly fallen) trees at the bark/wood interface separating the bark and killing the tree. This
small beetle will eventually die, when the wood becomes seasoned. This beetle will also attack stressed trees.
Ambrosia beetles- another beetle that you need not be worried about. You can easily identify the evidence of this little
guy because the exit/entry holes will be stained blue (a fungus that the beetle feeds upon). Evidence of this guy can
often be found in attics or crawlspaces. This beetle attacks new softwood and hardwoods and dies out in
Bostrichid beetles (false power-post beetle)- this beetle is placed in the non re-infesting category, however, this
beetle can (rarely) re-infest. Some species attack both hardwoods and softwoods but mainly hardwoods. These guys
are roughly 1/4 inch in length and are dark brown, or reddish-brown to black (depending upon the species).
Others include: round-headed borers, flat-headed borers, horntails (woodwasp). These beetles normally attack
(only) living trees. These beetles can often be found emerging from wood in new construction (vigas), and firewood that
is brought into the home just prior to burning. The drying process of the wood is not favorable to these beetles, therefore,
they emerge and die. Treatment is normally not necessary for non re-infesting wood boring beetles. Infested lumber must
be kiln dried (in an oven) before it is used in construction.
To treat, or not to treat-
Treatment for wood borers will depend upon several factors, and they are:
1). Is treatment even necessary in the first place?
2). If treatment is necessary, what type of treatment?
3). The type of wood-borer infesting the structure
Treatment types are:
1). Localized injection of a pesticide into the galleries of wood
2). Fumigation in a vault (sealed) chamber
3). Wood removal and replacement.
Wood-borers that require treatment:
1). True powder-post beetle (lyctids)
2). False powder-posts
4). Old house borers
Other than the four beetles listed above, treatment (more often than not) will not be necessary. Most of
the damage done to homes is by one of the three listed here.
Other wood-borers that will not (usually) require treatment are;
Metallic, flat-headed, round-headed, long-horned beetles in the families buprestidae and Cerambycidae.
These beetles will normally only attack living trees and it is common to encounter these beetles emerging
from lumber in new construction. The drying process of new wood does not favor new infestation of these
listed and they will emerge (drop-out) and die.
Pictured above- Acrobat ant frass in a
crawlspace next to a ventilation grille.