I have an infestation of powder post beetles in stored, rough-sawn red oak and ash. I plan to get rid of the wood with evidence of infestation by the presence of tunnels and fresh powder. The wood in which I see no signs of infestation I plan to treat with Bora-Care. What precautions do I need to take when I work the wood? Are there health concerns?
W. Patrick Edwards: To kill powder post beetles you must use methyl bromide gas in a chamber (professional) for at least 48 hours. This will kill the insect in all its life stages. Otherwise, the eggs will survive.
Lee Grindinger: There are three families of insects that fall under the umbrella of the name Powder Post Beetles. Lyctidae are the only true Powder Post Beetles. The other two families are Bostrichidae and Anobiidae. Bostrichids cannot survive in lumber dried below 12%MC. Lyctids prefer the sapwood of open pored hardwoods such as oak, ash and hickory. Rarely will they bother the heartwood and they cannot thrive in wood below 12%MC. Sapwood has the higher starch content they need to sustain themselves. Anobiids, also known as deathwatch beetles and furniture beetles are the ones that do the most damage to furniture. Anobids produce an enzyme that enables them to convert the dryer wood tissue to starch. What you’re seeing are the exit holes. The insects that produced those holes and the dust, called frass, are gone. Adults will often return and lay eggs in the open pores of the same wood but if the wood is dried below 10% they will look elsewhere. So, if the wood you found the holes in is dried to 8% the infestation is over. Also, Boracare will kill active larvae once the they eat it. Because Boracare is a borate suspended in water it penetrates wood readily and is quite effective in active infestations. Borates are considered quite safe. Some consider it healthy exposure because our bodies use borates. Toxicity is extremely low.