How to Get Rid of Powder Post Beetles: Pet-Safe & Natural Methods

Knowing how to get rid of powderpost beetles is essential. For homeowners who don't know how to get rid of this pest, you may incur a loss because they may destroy wood works in your home.
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
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Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: August 31, 2023
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Knowing how to get rid of powderpost beetles is essential. For homeowners who don’t know how to get rid of this pest, you may incur a loss because they may destroy wood works in your home. Among all wood-eating pests, powder-post beetles cause severe damage. So they must be eliminated to prevent damage to your luxurious furniture.

Unfortunately, some people have no idea what they look like. This article helps you learn everything that matters about powderpost beetles. From their identification to their signs of infestation, you’ll discover methods to get rid of them.

What Are Powderpost Beetles?

Carpenter ants and termites are notorious wood-destroying bugs, but powderpost beetles are also dangerous. They derive their name from the white powder they create after boring into a wood.

They are the second-most destroyer of dry-seasoned wood after termites. These pests can destroy your wood completely until it turns to powdery dust, which is also called frass.

Powderpost beetles need homes to thrive because this is vital for the survival of their eggs. They lay eggs in wood after they’ve dug holes inside the wood. Unlike other tiny pests, their larvae take a longer time to reach the stage of maturity. It could take a larva about five years before it evolves into an adult. As the years count, there will be lots of activities in the furniture and the wood they’re feeding on.

One thing that complicates the treatment of powderpost beetles is the lack of clarity. Some pest control companies, builders, manufacturers, wood suppliers, and homeowners alike find it very confusing to identify the infestation of these pests. Since it takes years for their larvae to mature, there’s usually that uncertainty in ascertaining the kind of beetles they breed. Plus, determining how active their infestation is can also be confusing. More so, their tiny size doesn’t help.

While this makes them difficult to spot, they also tend to be more active at night. Although termites and powder post beetles are both infamous for their wood-munching activity, what makes powder post beetles more dreadful is their ability to live in any wood. Wet softwood isn’t out of their scope. If it’s hardwood, they won’t hesitate to chow down on it. So it becomes clear why homeowners are always looking for how to get rid of powder post beetles on hardwood floors.

How do Powderpost Beetles Look Like? 

How to Get Rid of Powder Post Beetles: Pet-Safe & Natural MethodsThe identification of these “powderpost beetles” and how to get rid of their danger to animals and your other properties is necessary to keep your home safe. You’ll be wasting your money and time if you identify wrongly. And the application of the wrong treatment products through misidentification can cause more issues.

You can easily identify powderpost beetles with these features:

  • The adults of these beetles are not up to 1/4″ in size. They’re super tiny. They can come either in black or reddish-brown.  Their bodies are cylindrical and, at the same time, flat-shaped.
  • The powder post beetles’ adults have a hardened appearance. There are different pit-like rows notable on their protective wings.
  • These beetles share the same stages as fleas and flies. They start as an egg and grow into larvae and pupae before they evolve into adults.
  • The larvae of these beetles have a similar look to an average grub. When you look at their tip, you’ll spot a dark brown and creamy white appearance. And before they can evolve into a pupa, they need wood which they can burrow themselves.
  • Powderpost beetle adults don’t live for too long. They die shortly after they’ve laid their eggs. These eggs do start boring out from the wood when they become adults. One way to notice their activities in your wood is if you notice powdery dust coming out from your wood. And the holes they create have a small pinhole shape.

Types of Powderpost Beetle

Powderpost beetles come in various species, and they belong to three families: Lyctinae or the true powderpost beetles,  Bostrichichidae or the false powder post battles and Anobiidae, also called Deathwatch or furniture beetles.

Anobiid Powderpost Beetles 

How to Get Rid of Powder Post Beetles: Pet-Safe & Natural MethodsFalse powder post beetles is another name given to these beetles. They share a close relationship with the Lyctidae and Bostrichidae families. And their principal family is the Anobiidae beetle.

These beetles can be found in massive quantities in the coastal areas and the Pacific Northwest. On rare occasions, you can come across them in the heartwood. But the sapwood is their favorite victim. These beetles are very concerned about the presence of moisture in wood before they attack. They produce coarse, gritty fecal pellets from their boring activity, compared to the Bostrichidae and Lyctid counterparts that produce a powder.

Lyctid Powderpost Beetles

How to Get Rid of Powder Post Beetles: Pet-Safe & Natural MethodsThese beetles are prevalent in the Pacific Northwest.  They’re also prevalent in trim, paneling, and furniture in the gulf coast states. They love to infest large-pored wood, especially mahogany, bamboo, oak, hickory, ash, and myrtle.

Before you install the beautiful and expensive trim and ash paneling in your home, make sure you do a thorough check because these beetles might infest them. Although these beetles will attack softwoods, hardwoods are their favorites. And they produce flour-like powder or “frass”.

Bostrichidae Powderpost Beetles

How to Get Rid of Powder Post Beetles: Pet-Safe & Natural MethodsThese beetles are usually only found in the tropics.  Unlike the Anobiid and Lyctid beetles, they’re not too common. Deathwatch beetles is another name they’re called.  Their powder or “frass” is as small as coffee grounds, and it’s coarse too. Softwoods are their top preference, but they can also exist in hardwoods.

Why Are There Powder Post Beetles in my Home? 

This is a question a lot of homeowners ask. If you have any moist wood or unfinished wood in your home, these beetles will be attracted to your home because they derive their food source best from moist or unfinished wood. However, most of them prefer to go for harder woods. Due to this, it’s advised that you look out for any home items made from hickory, walnut, ash, oak, walnut, and cherry.

These beetles can also attack your softer woods. So, you shouldn’t feel too relaxed about the items made in your home with softwoods. These beetles fancy newer wood, and they usually target this kind of wood to lay their larvae.

The adult powder post beetles usually explore cracks, torn screens, and open windows to fly into buildings and houses.

How Dangerous Are Powder Post Beetles? 

Powder post beetles cannot hurt you physically. But then, they could hurt your feelings by destroying the precious items in your home. Your home’s structures can also suffer from their notoriety. These tiny beetles are not carriers of transferable diseases, nor do they carry poison. They don’t even bite.

However, they can infest all kinds of woods. And they love to reside in flooring, toys, books, furniture, and frames where their existence wouldn’t appear too noticeable. To protect your home from getting damaged by these beetles, you need to catch them early.

Signs of a Powder Post Beetle Infestation

How to Get Rid of Powder Post Beetles: Pet-Safe & Natural MethodsIt’s usually not too difficult to spot an infestation of these beetles. If you have any untreated wooden objects, such as joists and subflooring, in your home and you notice a powdery substance around them, this could be a sign of an infestation. The beetle larvae take their time to grow, but as they grow, they keep boring holes in the wood.  It’s from these holes that you’ll notice this powdery substance.

So, when you check your wood surfaces, and you notice that there are tiny holes created, note that the wood has been infected. If you’re not quick to get into action, these adults will come out from the holes they’ve been boring.  After they come out, they’ll mate and lay eggs, and they’ll keep repeating the same process on that untreated wood Trusted Source The effect of natural weathering on untreated wood surface As a result of contemporary ecological and sustainable movements, a number of constructions from wood, as the only renewable building material, is still increasing. In accordance with these trends, wood elements are often left untreated. .

It’s also important to mention that you might also experience a termite infestation with this kind of sign. But, this is where your knowledge of the identification of powder post beetles comes in.

How to Notice an Infestation 

It pays to know how much these beetles actively infest your wood. Understanding the depth of the active infestation helps you know what you’re dealing with. And how swiftly you need to take action. There are two ways to determine an active infestation. The first one is to observe the suspected areas that are infested.

Once you notice the powdery substance, sweep it off. Wait till a day or two and check again if there’s a new powdery substance in that area. If you find this powder again, you’re dealing with an active infestation.

The other method to know is by checking the wood thoroughly. Look for the bored holes and seal them up. Check again later. And if you notice that there are new holes, then you have an active infestation at hand.

How to Get Rid of Powderpost Beetles

Wood-boring beetles can do the worst to your home if you let them thrive. And to get rid of them, there are three major methods you can choose to eliminate them.

Method 1: Use Surface Treatments

How to Get Rid of Powder Post Beetles: Pet-Safe & Natural MethodsIndividuals looking for how to get rid of powder post beetles in cabinetry and other places in their living space will find this method to be very effective. Especially if you’ve established that your exposed wood is actively infested, you’ll need to go for this method.

All you need to do is to get a pesticide. However, don’t just get any kind you see. Get one that contains borate. The beautiful thing about these kinds of pesticides is that they can kill both the beetles coming out from the wood’s surface and those that are entering.

Their penetrating ability to kill larvae makes them preferable, and they can help to arrest any chance of further damage. A pesticide like the Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer will do the job effectively.

Once you get your pesticide, it’s very important that you read the instructions on the label carefully before you apply.  You can apply it to the surface of your wood directly by brushing or spraying it.

Any bare wood surface, such as siding, decking, studs, subflooring, rafters, and sills, can be treated with surface treatment pesticides. Experts have also recommended the Mighty Mint Plant Protection Peppermint Spray as an effective treatment solution. However, if the infested areas in your home are less-accessible, you cannot surface treat. And this is where the next method comes in.

Method 2: Consider Fumigation 

How to Get Rid of Powder Post Beetles: Pet-Safe & Natural MethodsFumigation is a treatment option that will work for three kinds of people. Firstly, it’s a more convenient option for people with larger infested places. Secondly, it will be very handy for people dealing with infested floors and walls. And thirdly, it’s the best option to treat less-accessible areas, as mentioned earlier.

With fumigation, you’ll be poisoning or suffocating the pests within the spaces where you’re applying the gaseous pesticide. Most homeowners resort to fumigation after exhausting all possible options they could try.  It should be your last option to consider, plus it can be quite expensive.  Again, in most cases, you’ll need a certified pest control professional to ensure that your fumigation is effective.

Method 3: Home Remedies 

How to Get Rid of Powder Post Beetles: Pet-Safe & Natural MethodsKnowing how to get rid of powder post beetles naturally is very economical. Compared to fumigating your home, these home remedies will not cost you too much.  At times, they may even cost you nothing.  Since they don’t involve using chemicals, they do not harm the environment. Here are some natural ways to eliminate powder post beetles in your home:

  • Alter the temperature. Experts have confirmed that a dramatic temperature change can eliminate powder post beetles. So, this is what you need to do. Observe the temperature of the room your infested wood is in. If it’s in a hot environment, change it to an extremely cold environment.
  • Borate salt. Powderpost beetles don’t have the strength to wrestle against borate salt. To make sure this method is effective, ensure you determine the infested area. After inspection and identification, get the area salted. If you have thinner wood infested by these beetles, use this method. It’s very effective. If you don’t have borate salt, you can use this Humco Boric Acid Powder.
  • Essential oils. Powder post beetles don’t like making contact with essential oils. However, if you’ll be using essential oils to get rid of powderpost beetles, ensure you get one that wouldn’t cause further damage to your wood. Because some essential oils are not friends with wood. Experts recommend cedar and eucalyptus as some of the best essential oils to eradicate powder post beetles.
  • Removal of infected wood. This should be the last option to consider. Especially when you’ve tried other options, and they weren’t forthcoming. It can be costly, but when you remove and replace the wood that’s been infected, it’s an easy way to eradicate the beetles in your home.

How to Prevent Powderpost Beetles 

How to Get Rid of Powder Post Beetles: Pet-Safe & Natural MethodsPowder post beetles can desecrate the items you cherish most in your home.  Once you’ve taken the stress to treat and eliminate them, you must ensure they don’t return. There are several measures you can put in place to keep these beetles out.

Firstly, ensure adequate inspection of any wood brought into your home. This wood shouldn’t contain high moisture levels. They must be kiln-dried or air-dried. Likewise, ensure that they’re painted, waxed, and varnished.

Secondly, when replacing a structural joint in your house, use new wood. Don’t forget to keep sheds and barns away when storing your wood products. Additionally, note that you cannot prevent powder post beetles if you don’t attend to moisture issues in your home.

You can ensure the reduction of moisture in your home by incorporating  good ventilation Trusted Source Ventilation Research Projects | NCHH The National Center for Healthy Housing , dehumidifiers, and central heat. If you’re getting new unfinished wood, you should treat it with an effective insecticide. The wood will absorb this insecticide, and it will repel any beetle that tries to seek shelter in it.

When to Call a Professional Powderpost Beetle Removal

Homeowners find powder post beetle infestation devastating.  Many are quick to call in the professionals once they lose their patience or realize they don’t have the required time to control it. Before you think of calling professional exterminators, you should try to explore the options at your disposal.

The do-it-yourself remedies are less expensive, and they won’t cost you as much as the service of professionals would. Most likely, a professional will advise you to fumigate your home, and you may spend some dollars on this. But the good side is that you’ll have professional hands handling the situation.


1. How do I eradicate powderpost beetles in furniture?

You can use fumigation to exterminate powder post beetles in furniture easily. If you’re interested in a cost-effective option, you can try altering the temperature. You may use extreme cold or get the affected areas or items heated for a day. What is recommended for the hot temperature is usually between 120 to 140 degrees. The freezing option may take at least 72 hours to be effective. And, the heating option may only demand 24 hours.

2. How do I eliminate powderpost beetles on hardwood floors?

If you’re dealing with a dire situation, you may be left with no option but to replace the wood. And if the situation isn’t that serious, insecticides and fumigation can help. If you’re already working with a pest control professional, the expert can offer counsel on the best approach to eradicate beetles for good.

3. Where do powderpost beetles come from?

If there are tiny entry points in your home, these are places where the powder post beetles can exploit to visit your home. Firewood, furniture, building supplies, and a host of other wooden items can also be sources that transport these beetles into your home.

4.  Will powderpost beetles go away on their own?

Powder post beetles always look for the perfect home to help them thrive. These beetles will gladly stay wherever they can find food and shelter. And if you don’t chase them away, they’ll stay.

5. Are powderpost beetles and termites the same thing?

No, they aren’t the same thing. The only thing these two pests have in common is that they’re both wood-boring insects.  They can inflict severe damage. Dealing with termites is quite easier because their adults are the ones that keep boring into wood surfaces. On the other hand, the larvae of the powder post beetles do the most damage before they exit the holes.

Final Thoughts

Powderpost beetles may seem like they can’t hurt a soul, but the damage they can wreak to your home can be huge. These beetles do more damage when they’re larvae. Because it’s during this stage that they start boring holes consistently for years. When undisturbed, they grow to become adults and lay eggs to spread more around your wood.

The earlier you notice their infestation, the earlier you should start working on eliminating them. And with the proper knowledge of how to get rid of powder post beetles, you’ll be making your home the haven that it should be. And the furniture and wooden materials in your home will thank you for this.


The effect of natural weathering on untreated wood surface
As a result of contemporary ecological and sustainable movements, a number of constructions from wood, as the only renewable building material, is still increasing. In accordance with these trends, wood elements are often left untreated.
Ventilation Research Projects | NCHH
The National Center for Healthy Housing
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