If you saw small holes and sawdust-like buildup on a wooden surface in or outside your home, what would you think was the cause? Most people would probably guess carpenter ants or termites on the interior, and possibly carpenter bees for outside damage. However, there is another, much less well-known pest that could be to blame.
Powderpost beetles are a group made up of several species of wood-boring insects that get their name from their ability to turn the inside of a piece of wood into powder. Commonly confused with carpenter ants and termites, powderpost beetles are thought by some researchers to be the second leading cause of insect damage to homes in America. Specifics vary depending on the exact species, but all powderpost beetles have similar signs of infestation and ways to be prevented and treated.
Indicators of Powderpost Beetle Infestation vs. Carpenter Ant Infestation
In most cases, homeowners will see the damage caused by powderpost beetles rather than the beetles themselves, whereas carpenter ants will always be visible when an infestation is present. This is because the majority of the beetle’s lifetime is spent inside the wood. Eggs are laid on bare, unfinished wood, where they hatch into larvae and begin tunneling. Adult beetles are difficult to spot because of their small size and the fact that they only tend to live for a few weeks. Carpenter ants, however, tend to be very active and their activity can lead a trained professional to the location of a parent or satellite nest. As a homeowner, keep an eye out for the following:
- Powdery, sawdust like byproduct of the beetle larva’s or carpenter ant’s excavation of the wood, called frass. The texture of the frass can vary widely depending on the species of powderpost beetle and can be difficult to differentiate from the frass created by carpenter ants, so this is usually not enough to determine the pest creating it.
- Exit holes, made by either fully grown larva or adult beetles; vary in size depending on species from approximately 0.03 inches to 0.28 inches in diameter. The exit holes for a powderpost beetle tend to be much easier to identify than the entrance to a carpenter ant nest.
- Wood that has a thin shell of solid wood around a powdery mass interior is a tell-tale sign of powderpost beetles. Conversely, carpenter ant nests will be a series of smooth “galleries” and tunnels.
Correctly identifying the pest causing damage to wooden surfaces or objects is vital to correct treatment, and no one does this better than a trained Batzner Service Specialist. Call 866-591-3519 or contact us today if you have any signs of carpenter ant or powderpost beetle damage!