Wood-infesting Beetles

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Identification

  • Colour Wide range of colours
  • Size At least 5 cm long
  • Description A range of body shapes, with six legs, two antennae, and two pairs of wings.

How to identify Wood-infesting Beetles

The various species of wood boring beetles can be identified by the type of evidence and damage that their larvae leave behind. Metallic wood borers, for instance, leave behind long oval holes larger than 6 mm. After completing the larval stage of development, wood infesting beetles typically grow to be at least 5 cm in size as adults. While the pests display a wide range of colours and body shapes, every beetle possesses six legs, two antennae, and two pairs of wings. The outer wings, called elytra, are hard and protect the inner membranous wings.

Signs of an infestation

Tell-tale signs of a wood-boring beetle infestation include the sounds of burrowing and the appearance of exit holes in wood. Frass produced by the tunnelling of adult beetles is usually left behind near the exit holes and serves as another sign of infestation. However, detecting an infestation can be difficult for untrained individuals because the presence of exit holes and frass does not always indicate an active infestation of beetles. Furthermore, adult beetles are not usually present in infested wood.

Wood-infesting Beetles Removal

For smaller pieces of infested wood that can fit in an oven, exposing the beetles to temperatures of about 50 degrees Celsius or more for at least 30 minutes will kill the pests. Similarly, placing affected wood in subzero temperatures for extended periods may also eliminate the infestation. Removing and replacing the affected wood may solve infestation problems, as well. However, the only way for untrained individuals to be sure of the severity and proper handling of the situation is by using the knowledge and services of an experienced pest control professional.

How to prevent Wood-infesting Beetles from invading

Using seasoned lumber and inspecting the wood before beginning any building project is one way to prevent infestations. Applying polyurethane, varnish, or paint prevents wood infesting beetles from boring into timber, as well. De-barking firewood, storing the wood outside, and using it immediately when the need arises also helps keep the beetles at bay. In addition, ventilating attics and crawlspaces while maintaining consistency in the temperature of the areas keeps moisture levels low, which in turn prevents beetle larvae from growing and deters the insects from burrowing.

Habitat, Diet, and Life Cycle

Habitat

Found throughout most of the world, wood infesting beetles characteristically inhabit forests, where they bore into the trees to access the nutrients. As a result, the pests often find their way indoors when people unknowingly bring infested lumber or firewood into the home. Each species usually displays a specific preference for either softwoods or hardwoods. Some species even prefer multiple types of wood.

Diet

As larvae, wood-boring beetles feed on the wood they infest. The wood contains the moisture and sugars that the growing beetles need in order to develop properly.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of wood infesting beetles takes anywhere from six months to a few years to complete, depending on the species and environmental conditions. Eggs are often laid in pores, cracks in wood, or just on the surface. The eggs hatch into larvae which eventually penetrate into wood by boring into it. They feed and develop within the wood. Following pupation, the fully grown beetles then make their way to the surface of the wood and emerge through tiny openings often known as exit holes to begin the cycle again.

Commonly Asked Questions

Why do I have wood-infesting beetles?

Wood-infesting beetles include ambrosia beetles, long-horned beetles, wharf borers, metallic wood borers, true powderpost beetles, false powderpost beetles, and deathwatch beetles.

They typically live in forest, burrowing into trees to eat, but can be brought into the home inadvertently in already-infested furniture or in firewood brought in to use or store.

Wood-infesting beetle larvae consume wood, so adult beetles lay their eggs in pores and cracks in the wood, or just on the surface, to give the larvae that emerge an immediate food source.

How worried should I be about wood-infesting beetles?

Once wood-infesting beetle eggs hatch, the larvae drill down and consume the surrounding timber, before exiting as adult beetles, leaving exit holes in the wood. Adult beetles also leave entry holes in the wood, as they bore down to lay eggs.

All this can create wood dust, damage wooden furniture, flooring, or framing – or if they have targeted a structural element of your home, make the building unsafe.

Unfortunately, sometimes it can take the larvae years to develop into adults, so you may not even be aware you have a problem – and even once you realize you have an issue, these beetles within the wood may then re-infest or seek new lumber around the home.

For smaller pieces of infested wood that can fit in an oven, exposing the beetles to temperatures of at least 50°C for at least 30 minutes may kill them. Or you can try placing the wood in subzero temperatures for a long period.

However, it can be challenging to thoroughly eradicate wood-infesting beetles, since it depends on properly identifying the insect, plus knowing the age, species, and moisture content of the infested wood.

To successfully eliminate your wood-infesting beetle problem for good and keep them from returning or re-infesting, you need a professional pest control service.

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