Spalted Hackberry and Worms

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Forum topic by Siv posted 03-09-2018 10:35 PM 311 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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61 posts in 499 days

03-09-2018 10:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hackberry

I have several hackberry trees in my garden and a couple of years ago, one threw a large limb so I cut it into 2ft logs and left them to rot. I didn’t know that hackberry was worth keeping but the more I read, the more I learned about the lovely spalting and grey colour you can get. So I picked up a large log (16” x 2ft) and ran it through my band saw. This is all that came out usable (about 1.5ft long and 2”x2”)!

The log was riddled with worm holes and the grubs are the fat white variety. But boy, what a beautiful piece of wood.

A few months ago I lost a whole tree and also have a lot of the wood sitting. What can I do to avoid the worms? And should I be worried about these worms migrating to other wood? So far, I’m keeping all the wood outside and not bringing into my woodshop.

7 replies so far

View LesB's profile


1603 posts in 3373 days

#1 posted 03-10-2018 12:46 AM

Wood prone to beetle grubs is usually either fumigated with an insecticide or heat treated in a kiln to cook the little buggers. If the pieces you will use are small enough you could microwave them.

-- Les B, Oregon

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130 posts in 1174 days

#2 posted 03-10-2018 04:03 AM

I don’t think migration would be a problem with those insects, now if it were powder post beetles, that’s another problem.

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1810 posts in 1317 days

#3 posted 03-10-2018 04:27 AM

If the worm (beetle) holes are relatively small and look like they have a black lining, they are (were) probably some type of ambrosia beetles. Those should not be a problem infesting other wood. They typicallly attack recently dead or dying trees and are usually gone if the wood is dry. If you are not seeing new sawdust piles as they tunnel out you don’t have anything to worry about. Look up powder post beetles so that you recognize what that damage looks like. If you see those, don’t bring it into your shop or house. In fact, I would probably burn it.

-- 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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284 posts in 434 days

#4 posted 03-10-2018 07:29 AM

Wow!!! Wouldn’t that make some really nice duck calls or knife scales!!! As I understand it, those bugs or grubs need moisture. I would bring it inside where it is dry and maybe even put it near a wood stove to let it warm up and dry out. Maybe even wrap it up in plastic and set off a bug bomb inside to kill any remaining bugs. That said, even if they manage to do some damage, I have some red oak burl that has big grub tunnels. It looks really neat if you fill them with color tinted casting resin, especially on knife scales or pistol grips.

View Siv's profile


61 posts in 499 days

#5 posted 03-12-2018 06:22 PM

Thanks for the responses guys. Based on your input, I suspect the infestation was because this limb was from a dying tree. What did surprise me was how wet the wood was in the interior after 2 years outside. The grubs and bores are pretty large – 1/4” or more so not your typical powder post beetle.

I actually have plenty of pieces that are worm free that would work for pens or knives but I mainly do picture frames and have ambitions for furniture so I’m looking for larger bits. I’m experimenting with using this as an accent or inlay wood using 1/8” thick strips which may work. I’ll keep trying.

The more recent haul was from an otherwise healthy tree that fell during a storm. I think I’ll have to get on with cutting this up quickly and keeping it isolated so that I don’t get any contamination from the old pile.

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6472 posts in 2129 days

#6 posted 03-12-2018 06:41 PM

I run into them little buggers all the time. Nothing more fun than turning a nice piece of spalted wood when all of the sudden – blam – bug guts all over your face shield :)

I will sometimes leave the frass in the hole and harden it with poly, but I usually will dig it out and fill the hole with epoxy – sometimes of an opposing color to the wood for greater contrast. Once filled, you can treat it normally as if it were not there, and you can get some really interesting looks depending on what you use to color/texture the epoxy.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


1810 posts in 1317 days

#7 posted 03-12-2018 09:04 PM

Those 1/4” worms will eventually mature and bore out. They most likely just attack dead or dying trees as well but need plenty of moisture. Not likely to do any damage but the bug guts that Brad mentioned are a little bit of nuisance. I turned a small platter and filled the tunnels with crushed turquoise.

I collected some pecan wood from a flood to be turned into bowls and about a month after I brought them into my shop, I started seeing sawdust and eventually beetles flying around that looked just like wasps. I almost wet myself the first time one landed on me. I had a bug zapper sitting on the shelf so I hung it up and put a plastic cup under it and I caught about 30 of the things. So if you bring salvage wood into your shop, it might not be a bad idea to set up a bug zapper to attract and capture any critters that come out. It might even work on some of the smaller beetles as well.

EDIT: here are varmits the came out of the pecan

-- 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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