Beetles in Your Baseboards?

Wayne Hobbs Environmental Horticulture Agent
Posted 2/28/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Have you ever stopped to consider how many insects are in Florida? Ranging from massive weevils to some species barely visible to the naked eye, we have a massive diversity of …

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Beetles in Your Baseboards?

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Have you ever stopped to consider how many insects are in Florida? Ranging from massive weevils to some species barely visible to the naked eye, we have a massive diversity of creepy crawlers and some hardly even get noticed. However, some of these smaller insects become very noticeable when they invade our homes and begin to feed on our walls and furniture.

What are powderpost beetles?

Powderpost beetles are a group of insects that can infest homes but are usually very small and their damage is usually found before we see the adults. This is because the adults typically lay their eggs on the surface of a wood product and the larvae can hatch and feed within furniture, timbers, baseboards or flooring for several years depending on conditions and species.

What makes this issue even worse is their small size and that they often fill their feeding galleries with their waste, known as frass. The only sign is often small round holes in the wood until adults mature from the larvae and start the process again. However, the larvae will be continually eating.

There are several species of powerpost beetles in Florida and if you find an adult, your local UF/IFAS Extension Office would be happy to help identify the pest. For more information about some of the likely species you may encounter, visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig119.

Powderpost Protection

The best way to protect against powderpost beetles is prevention, which comes from making sure they do not enter through wood products brought into the home. Check unfinished lumber, furniture and flooring for any boring holes before installation. Be very wary of antique or second-hand wood furniture.

Another important step is to apply a finish, such as paint or varnish, to any wood in the home as the beetles only lay their eggs on unfinished surfaces. If adults emerge from finished lumber, it means they were inside of the wood before it was finished or laid their eggs inside of holes from previous infestations. Removing infested wood can be an option as well. If you see small, round emergence holes in a piece of trim or furniture, remove it and replace with an un-infested piece.

Chemical controls can also be effective in treating the beetles if applied properly. Look for a surface-applied product that is labeled control of beetles indoors and apply to infected wood as directed on the label. This can kill adults as they chew their way out of the material or when they go to lay their eggs. To get good penetration of the products into the wood, you may have to sand off any finish.

Finally, another option in treating powderpost infestations is to work with a commercial pest control company. They will have access to some products you may not and can fumigate a structure if needed. This can be especially helpful if they beetles are mainly within walls and the home’s structure.

If you have any horticultural, agricultural, 4-H or family and consumer science questions, contact the University of Florida/IFAS Clay County Extension Office online at http://www.clay.ifas.ufl.edu or call by phone at (904) 284-6355.

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