Powder Post Beetles: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Blog entry by Brian Havens posted 05-07-2010 08:58 AM 4006 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Wednesday was a bad day.

The Bad

As I was rummaging through my supply of wood, I started to notice some dead beetles. No, not the ones from England. These looked liked they had fallen dead into some of my Pearwood bowl blanks, now dry after a couple of years of sitting. I as I got closer to discovering the source, I started finding living bugs. “This really sucks”, I said to myself, minus a few explicatives. It did not take me long to find the source. It was that really great deal—now not so great deal— on Sycamore. Needless to say I spent the next several hours cleaning my entire stock and treating the infested wood.

Picture 4

The Ugly

These boards were apparently infected before I bought them. The scary part is that I have had them for almost two years. Apparently, these pests can remain in the wood for years before resurfacing. Now I have seen a few Powder Post Beetle holes in boards before, but nothing on this order. The sapwood is just riddled.


The Good

It seems, however, nature was pulling for me. I kept finding these concentrated piles of dead beetles every where. In fact more than half of the total population were in these congregations. Congregations? NOT! More like spiders! If there is one creature we have a lot of here in California, it’s spiders. And they did quite a number on those wretched rascals.

From the research I have done on Powder Post Beetles, I am not likely to have a “re-infestation” as they call it. Conditions here are just not right. Not to mention the job the spiders did on them. They also seem to be rather finicky about the species as well as only being interested in the sapwood. Yeah, it sucks to lose that Sycamore, but at least—for now—my Mahogany, Black Walnut, exotics, and the rest are safe.


Did I mention that I love spiders?
Look closely in the middle and you can see that little guy. Quite a appetite for such a small spider.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

7 comments so far

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 3137 days

#1 posted 05-07-2010 10:00 AM

Oh no, I knew there was a use for the daddy long legs.
I could send you about fifty from my shop.
I saw on TV that their venom is one of the strongest in the world but they can’t brake though human skin.
I just hate the black widows that like my shop.
Those black widows come out and party at night right where I worked hours before.
I’ve killed them hanging on the front of the table saw about three times in the past 2 years.
At least the spiders don’t eat wood too.
I hope you can come up with a use for the “swiss cheese wood” you have there and kill off all those beetles.
Your wood pile probably looked like the wood smorgasbord for those beetles.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View swoper's profile


59 posts in 3194 days

#2 posted 05-07-2010 01:27 PM

I have a barn full of them nasty bugs (powder post beetle) and I have never seen one out of the wood but can see the wood powder all over the beams and at the base of the post, I wish my spiders were as helpful as yours. They have weakened the timbers in the framework so much i’m thinking of tearing the barn down and putting up a steel building thanks for showing me what they look like

-- Harry, Jackson Mi

View rusticandy's profile


110 posts in 3499 days

#3 posted 05-07-2010 05:06 PM

Try TIM-BOR- I spray borate salts religiously, as I use lots of air dried local woods.

-- rustic andy

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2927 days

#4 posted 05-07-2010 06:07 PM

I use tim-bor as well, so far so good. It coats the surface, making that wood poisonous to the bugs that come along and eat it…from the outside or the inside. It won’t necessarilly kill the bugs as they lay dormant (yes, maybe for years), but it gets them sooner or later. It advertises to kill the eggs they lay as well. From what I have learned, the little critters will lay eggs next to or just inside their bored holes, then go back inside and snooze some more between feedings. I guess it’s a matter of hope that sooner or later they chew away on some treated wood and check out. Now that they are around, spray any wood you have stored to help keep this from happening again. Tim-bor is a product name, there are other products that work as well. Thank you for sharing your loss, Brian, it is a good thing to help others in an effort to keep them from the same.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3657 days

#5 posted 05-07-2010 11:58 PM

Thanks for the info , Brian : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Brian Havens's profile

Brian Havens

196 posts in 3075 days

#6 posted 05-09-2010 07:56 AM

I sprayed the infested Sycamore, as well as a few other boards that I thought they may be interested in, with lacquer thinner. Granted, this will not get at the bugs deep in the wood, but right now there is enough surface activity to deal with that this bought me some time to look for longer term solutions. The lacquer thinner kills them almost on contact, and even flushes them out of the holes. Granted, this is a stop-gap, as this is a new experience for me. Looks like I need to look into this TIM-BOR stuff.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

View Brian Havens's profile

Brian Havens

196 posts in 3075 days

#7 posted 05-09-2010 08:32 AM

I did a little follow up research on TIM-BOR. My initial concern was that it was toxic to humans, but apparently, it is hardly toxic to humans. The data sheet even indicates that, even though it does not recommend ingesting it (LOL), ingestion of up to a teaspoon is not cause for concern.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

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