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Powder Post Beetles

Summary: Power post beetles can be transported into homes in antique furniture or firewood, to name just two examples. Power post beetles make small, pellet-sized holes in wood, seen often in antiques and even antique reproductions.

Donna K, San Antonio, TX asks: What is the proper treatment for powder post beetles?

Dear Donna: First question to ask is how do you know it is, in fact, power post beetles? If it is, how do you know it is an active infestation? Some infestations die on their own without any treatment. Are you finding fine, power-like little piles under some piece of furniture? I want you to be sure the powder post beetle is the problem in order to confirm that treatments are necessary.

There are lots of things you can do to treat for these insects such as increasing ventilation to reduce humidity. Wood moisture levels under 13% during spring and summer will make wood unsuitable for power post beetle life. Borrow, rent or buy a wood moisture meter to check your wood.

If the powder post beetles were found on a small section of wood such as a section of flooring, you might be able to cure the problem by simply replacing that affected section of the floor. There are power post beetle surface treatments for wood, but if the wood has any type of finish like paint or varnish the pesticide materials will not properly saturate the wood to kill the power post beetles. The finish would have to be sanded off prior to treatment.

Fumigation is a great power post beetle treatment, but very expensive, especially if you are treating an entire house. It requires tenting a structure and pumping deadly gas into the tented structure and vacating the house for several days.

I suggest speaking with your local County Cooperative Extension Agent about the problem before you speak with an exterminator. The Agent has no vested interest in selling you anything and he'll give you answers with no obligations. Take him a sample of what you are finding or a specimen of the insect if you have one.

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