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Killing Wood Boring Beetles in Hickory?

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Forum topic by Lazyman posted 08-11-2015 11:38 PM 808 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lazyman

687 posts in 847 days


08-11-2015 11:38 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hickory question bandsaw milling drying beetle borer

I brought home some small hickory logs from a friend’s lake house here in Texas so that I could try cutting it into boards with my “newish” bandsaw for future use. One small log was from his firewood pile and the other was the trunk of a recently cut down tree about 10” in diameter that presumable died in 2013 or 14 from the drought. I peeled off the bark before cutting it and noticed lots of beetle holes and tracks but didn’t see any live critters until I started sawing it up. The wood near the bark looks similar to ambrosia maple with some holes and spalting in the sapwood but the heartwood is mostly clear and solid. They are all under 30” long because that was the largest I felt I could handle on the band saw.

After squashing a few beetles that came out after sawing, I started wondering if they could be a risk to the trees around my home (or any other wood laying around in my shop for that matter). I don’t have a picture but they look like dark brown bark beetles that I have seen in pictures in the past and are probably a 16th of an inch long or smaller. My initial assumption was that the beetles attacked a sick and dying tree but I was wondering if anyone knows what type of beetle would attack a hickory tree that grew east of the Dallas area and whether it could be a risk for the oak trees around my house. I mostly want to know if they attach healthy trees or just dying ones.

I’d like to try to kill any of the beetles that might still be lurking inside the boards just in case but I would rather not use a pesticide (borate). One idea is to seal the logs in several large garbage bags and let them bake out on my driveway in the 100+ degree temperatures for a few days. I just measured the temperature of the concrete on the driveway and at 4 PM and it was 135 degrees F. My biggest concern about this approach is that it could cause the wood to warp and split due to losing moisture too quickly. The logs have been dead for at least a year but my cheap moisture meter says that the heart of the logs are still above 30% while they are around 20-25% near the edges. I was thinking that if I seal up the bags pretty tightly, it might keep the humidity inside high enough to help prevent excessive moisture loss over 2 or 3 days. Then I would just bring them back into my garage to air dry for a year.

I would appreciate any thoughts and insight any of you have.

Here is a picture of a couple of the boards.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.


9 replies so far

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WDHLT15

1571 posts in 1936 days


#1 posted 08-12-2015 02:06 AM

It is ambrosia beetles. They are not going to hurt your other trees. They are already there naturally in your environment anyway. They bore into weak, dying, or recently dead trees. They will leave the wood as it begins to dry. They are in the logs because the moisture content in the logs is still high enough for them to flourish. After you saw the boards, they will leave pretty soon. You will see their little piles of sawdust as they complete their life cycle and bore out.

Your idea of the black plastic bag on the hot concrete will work. That will hasten their departure and demise. The good thing is that they are harmless, and they will not infest any other wood or trees that you have. The good thing is that the black lined holes that they leave create a lot of character in the wood. They bring in a fungus on their body, lay eggs in the chambers that they make. The fungus grows on the chamber walls. The baby larvae feed on the fungus. Pretty simbiotic.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

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DTOLAR

28 posts in 483 days


#2 posted 08-12-2015 08:39 AM

I got something similar in my pecan slabs, here in East Texas, holes are usually 1/8th inch or so, but some are close to 1/2” never seen the actual beetle, just their little holes and piles of sawdust.

Once mine are cut down to cutting board size, I put them in the oven at room temp, heat to 225, as soon as it gets to temp, cut it off, and let it cool back to room temp. Seems to be adequate heat to kill the bugs, but doesn’t warp or crack the wood.

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WDHLT15

1571 posts in 1936 days


#3 posted 08-12-2015 11:30 AM

Do the small holes have a slight black ring around them or is the tunnel black lined?

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

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Lazyman

687 posts in 847 days


#4 posted 08-12-2015 12:52 PM

I’d say that the tunnel is black lined. I’m going to try putting into a trash bag this morning put a wireless thermometer/humidity sensor in there and see how it does.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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WDHLT15

1571 posts in 1936 days


#5 posted 08-13-2015 01:35 AM

Elvis will leave the building.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

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soob

223 posts in 668 days


#6 posted 08-13-2015 03:27 AM

Trash bag is the wrong approach. Use clear plastic. Put the black trash bag on the ground for a little extra “umpf.” Actually the best thing to cover with would be (clear) bubble wrap since it is an insulator.

When I have done this I put the logs in the bed of my pickup (with its black liner) and put a clear tarp over it. Does it work? I guess. I mean, I’m not sure, because the wood then goes into an attic where it’s pretty hot every day (115+ F). Bugs don’t like heat. 130 F (in the wood, so it takes time) is supposed to kill all of them.

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Lazyman

687 posts in 847 days


#7 posted 08-13-2015 11:54 AM

Soob, I considered that clear plastic would have been better to achieve a higher temp via greenhouse effect but I don’t have any clear trash bags on hand ( nor any others use for them). I thought about using some clear plastic drop cloth as well but I wanted a pretty good seal to contain and collect any critters that tried to leave but also to ensure the humidity stayed high to help prevent too rapid drying at this early stage. The temperature/humidity sensor only showed 111° max temp but I struck my infrared sensor in and saw 130°F on the surface of the boards in top layers. Humidity hovered at around 85%. I have 2 bags so I may try transferring contents of 1 bag to clear drop cloth to see the difference for future reference.

Note that temps here didn’t hit 100°F yesterday. We only hit a cool 97°.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Lazyman

687 posts in 847 days


#8 posted 08-19-2015 12:23 AM

A quick update. I transferred half of the wood to a clear drop cloth just to see the difference on the second day. I rolled up the edges and clamped them to keep the humidity and beetles in. The temperature got warmer but not by much. The biggest difference is that the temperature seemed to be more uniform—not just the top boards hit the high temps. The RH was not as high, though that could have been a problem with my sensor at the mid 130 temps. I kept the wood out in the sun for 3 days and it was noticeably dryer when I brought it back inside. I can’t tell if it caused any warping because I didn’t do the best job of sawing them straight to begin with but there weren’t any addition checks or cracks—just the ones that were there when I collected the logs.

Note that I collected a couple of beetles immediately after taking the wood out of the bag and drop cloth. I put them in a plastic bottle to see if I could identify them. They looked more like bark beetles to me than the beetles typically associated with ambrosia so I’m not sure if these were the ones that actually bored into the wood. I also don’t consider this a success at killing the beetles either. The beetles weren’t moving when I initially collected them but after they cooled down, I noticed that they were crawling around inside the jar and crawled away when I wasn’t looking. These are tough little buggers.

Thanks for your help.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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WDHLT15

1571 posts in 1936 days


#9 posted 08-20-2015 12:07 AM

I sawed some pine Sunday that was recently dead or dying from bark beetle attack. The ambrosia beetles come in after the bark beetles weaken/kill the tree. Unlike the bark beetles, which only infest the inner bark, the ambrosia beetles bore into the wood and lay eggs. In just three days of air drying, the ambrosia beetles are boring out and leaving the boards. They cannot live in the wood once it begins to dry.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

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