Powder Post Beetle Worries

Will powderpost beetles found in a piece of furniture spread elsewhere in the house? April 21, 2011

Ash cabinets were installed mid-October. Two weeks ago, I responded to a call from the homeowner and confirmed the telltale pin holes and powdery residue of PPBs. Thus far damage limited to doors obtained from a third party shop. Face frames and all other solid ash parts milled by us (stock obtained from a different source) show no infestation. Doormaker is replacing the affected parts (from new batch of material!), and we seem to have caught the problem in time.

But the experience has led to some questions. First, how can I be sure the bugs haven't gotten into the face frames and other component parts, only to turn up again months from now? A few dead ones actually exited the door panels (haven't seen or heard of this before) and turned up on the floor. Also, these doors have been hauled several times in my covered pickup bed over the course of the build and removal - is simply sweeping/rinsing the bed enough to protect future cargo? It seems like we have avoided a disaster in this case, but I don't know enough about handling the cleanup phase to have a good comfort level.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The PPB prefers to lay its eggs in the nooks and small cracks of a wood surface. So if there is a film on the top of the doors (like varnish), then there is no place for them to lay their eggs. Note that they only go to hardwoods (except for some imported PPBs that we rarely see), so what wood is your bed made of? In general, sweeping is probably adequate, but in any case, remove the doors ASAP to a place far away. Be prepared for a few more doors to show damage as the weather warms up and promptly remove them too.

If they do lay eggs, it can be 6 months or so before they hatch and up to 2 years before they exit the wood and you see the holes again. So, you are likely not to have any more due to the finish on the wood, but you will only be certain in a year or so.

From contributor C:
I would disagree that PPB only go to hardwoods. Pine is one of their favorites.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:

The lyctid PPB is the PPB that goes into hardwoods (except for a rare foreign PPB). This PPB prefers grainy hardwoods like ash. The description of the original poster fits this insect. The lyctid PPB also prefers dry wood.

There is an anobiid PPB but it prefers wetter wood and also leaves a larger hole that would not be called a pin hole and also does not have the fine powdery dust (frass).

PPB description in Table 14.2

From the original questioner:
Doc, thanks. Yes, all the solid ash parts have a film finish, so hopefully the existing bugs won't have any descendants. Am also saying a little prayer that all currently active PPBs emerged around the same time, so that this doesn't drag on and on for the homeowner.