What To Do About Powder Post Beetles On Your Virginia Property


Powder post beetles are tiny wood-loving beetles that are very destructive to your Virginia home, second only to termites. There are three common varieties, and while they have all the same parts and pieces, they have slightly different colorations and shapes.

Where Powder Post Beetles Begin

The female adult powder post beetle lays her eggs in untreated, unstained, or unpainted wood. She deposits the egg (10-50 eggs) just below the surface and leaves them. So you will not notice a mother beetle hovering or caring for them. Once they hatch, the larvae will bore deeper into the wood, happily munching and growing as they go. Depending on the type of beetle, this process can take between one and five years. The three types of powder post beetles are:

  • Lyctids - 1/16-¼ long, narrow and elongated, reddish-brown to black. They prefer hardwoods such as oak, ash, walnut, hickory, and cherry. You will not find them in new construction homes. The young emerge within one year.
  • Anobiidae - ?-¼ long, reddish-brown to black, oval with a large ‘hooded’ head. They prefer hardwoods but will occasionally eat softwood. Tropical hardwoods such as bamboo are their favorite. The powder they produce is rougher, more like cornmeal.
  • Bostrichidae - 1/16-? long, golden brown color with what looks like wood-grain markings. These beetles prefer softwood and thrive with moisture.

As we said earlier, the mother beetle lays her eggs in untreated wood. This doesn’t mean that the wood stays this way. The larvae could be inside the wood, and you would never know it. You could build your house with it and be unaware until the emergence. You could buy a lovely hardwood coffee table or dresser and suddenly, one day, discover the exit holes.

How Do I Know If I Have Them?

You will discover piles of what looks like sawdust and find tiny exit holes in the wood. This can happen anywhere from furniture to wood joists and beams. Each type of beetle has a different texture to the powder that they leave behind. The lyctids produce a fine powder much like flour, the anobiidae produce a cornmeal consistency, and the bostrichidae leave behind something in between the other two. Depending on how many females lay eggs, you could potentially have hundreds of holes. If the wood had been treated or painted during the development cycle of the larvae, the emerging females will abandon the site and search for fresh, untainted wood for their babies. If the wood remained untreated, like, in the case of new construction framing, the female most likely would return, causing the damage to continue.

Best Way To Get Rid Of Them

You can be certain that you have no way of knowing how extensive the infestation is in your Virginia home. Due to the lengthy maturity process, these beetles can emerge anytime. The trick is once they are out, you need to keep them that way. Albemarle Termite & Pest Control has plenty of experience doing just that. Most people have never even heard of these beetles, and when the discovery is made, they are left baffled as to the correct course of action. Because we are in the business, we see this problem often and know exactly what to do. Call us for a free estimate today.

Prevention Tips

Prevention of this particular pest is not overly complicated like some other pests that can infest your home. The list is short and to the point.

  • The first thing to do is inspect every new piece of wood that comes into your home. Varnish, seal, wax, or paint it. 
  • Address any moisture issues you may have in the home using central air and dehumidifiers.
  • Do not leave wood sitting on the dirt, where it can acquire moisture.

Talk over prevention measures and home pest control with Albemarle Termite & Pest Control. We will be happy to help you with any future construction projects and preventive actions and save you a lot of headaches in the long run.