Wood-boring beetles include several families of beetles whose larvae feed on wood and wood products. Wood-boring beetles play an important ecological role by tunneling through dead and decaying wood to aid in decomposition. Some wood-boring beetles feed on living, dying, diseased, burned, damaged, or dead trees but do not attack harvested lumber. These species can cause problems when the adults emerge from lumber in new construction or are carried indoors in firewood. Other species of wood-boring beetles may infest wood before and after it is milled, finished and installed; they may also infest furniture and other wooden objects.
Wood-boring beetle adults lay eggs in the cracks and crevices of exposed wood. When these eggs hatch, larvae bore into the wood, producing tunnels as they feed and pack frass behind them. While adults who have emerged from wood may only live a few days or weeks, the destructive larvae often spend 2 to 5 years boring through wood.
What kinds of materials are commonly infested by wood beetles?
Wood-boring beetles which attack harvested wood in structures can damage almost any wood product. These may include wooden pallets, crates, or shipping carts; firewood; and household wooden items such as picture frames, broom handles, bamboo and bamboo products, wicker baskets and furniture, carved wooden art objects, wooden artifacts, decorative driftwood, wooden furniture, and wood paneling. The adults of some species also bore into soft metals, plaster, and plastic.
What are the signs of a wood beetle infestation?
One or two stray beetles are occasionally brought in on firewood or other wood products and may not indicate an active infestation. Since adult wood-boring beetles emerge within wood, look for round or oval exit holes that range in size from 1/32" to 3/8". Fine sawdust or frass (food fragments and excrement) may fall from exit holes and create small piles on the floor or surfaces below the wood. Dust or frass reappearing within one to weeks of cleanup indicates an active infestation.
What are some common types of wood-boring beetles?
There are many species in several families of wood-boring beetles. Some families, however, only infest live trees or recently harvested wood, so it is not necessary to treat for them since they will not re-infest the dead wood. These types include ambrosia beetles, round head borers, flat head borers (including metallic borers), and bark beetles. Wood-boring beetle adults and larvae are often difficult to collect, so identification begins with examination of exit holes, frass, and damage. The most common wood-infesting beetles of concern are Powderpost Beetles (of the family Lyctidae), Deathwatch Beetles (of the family Anobiidae), and False Powderpost Beetles (of the family Bostrichidae). These beetles are typically controlled in the same manner, though severe infestations should be evaluated by a professional and may require an entomologist for proper identification.
How to Prevent Wood-boring beetle infestations
Prevention is the best management for wood-infesting beetles.
- Inspect timber and wood products when selecting, if possible, or when delivered to your home for emergence holes.
- Use wood that his been kiln or air dried to reduce moisture that is favorable to wood-infesting beetles.
- Firewood should be debarked, split (to speed drying), and stored away from structures.
- Reduce moisture inside the home with proper ventilation, drainage, and dehumidifiers.
- Treat unfinished wood with a borate product such as Boracare or Timbor (before sealing) to prevent damage from wood-destroying organisms.
- Infested branches or limbs outdoors can be burned.
Boracare for Wood-boring Beetle Control
Boracare is a borate liquid that can be used on all cellulostic materials (wood, plywood, particle board, etc.).
- Boracare must be used on unfinished wood, and can be sprayed, brushed, or foamed.
- Boracare is preferred for furniture protection because it dries clear. For areas that will not be visible, an appropriate pigment may be added to the mixed solution for tracking.
- Boracare is preferred for existing beetle infestations because is absorbs further into wood than Timbor.
- A water-protective seal must be used for wood that will be exposed to rain.
- See label for mixing and application instructions. Dilution will vary according to the thickness of wood or type of beetle being treated.
Timbor for Wood-boring Beetle Control
Timbor is an economical borate salt powder applied to untreated wood as a foam, liquid, or dust.
- Timbor is an effective insecticide, termiticide, and wood preservative.
- Timbor will absorb about ¼" into wood and will leave a white powdery film.
- For use on interior and exterior wood that will be protected from excessive rain and not in direct contact with soil.
- See label for specific mixing and application instructions.
Timbor (what is it, how does it work, etc)
Disodium Octaborate Tetrahydrate
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