Powderpost Beetle


Actual Size: 1/32 to 1/4″

Characteristics: Long, narrow, flat bodies. Six legs. Reddish brown to black.


Powderpost beetles have long, narrow, flat bodies that allow them to easily attack wood surfaces. These beetles have six legs, are reddish-brown to black, and usually 1/32 to 1/4 inches in length. The term “powderpost beetle,” applies to any of three closely related families: True, False and Furniture or Deathwatch beetles. Powderpost beetles are wood-boring insects that reduce timber to a mass of very fine powder-like material, hence the name powderpost beetle.


Females mate often during their lifetime and the total number of eggs laid per female is about fifty. Powderpost females prefer to lay eggs on hardwoods rather than softwoods and prefer rough wood surfaces. Eggs hatch in approximately eight days and after hatching, larvae bore into the wood tunneling in the direction of the grain. One to five years later, adult beetles begin emerging from infested wood in early spring and continue through mid-summer. The life span of an adult beetle is generally a few months to a year, with very few living for more than a year.


Powderpost beetles have the ability to bite but rarely do since they spend most of their lives inside of wood. The real threat of this beetle is its ability to damage the wood. The most commonly infested woods include ash, oak, hickory, and walnut. Powderpost beetles cause millions of dollars in damage each year as they infest dry seasoned wood, and are ranked second to termites in the United States.


The key to avoiding serious issues from powderpost beetles is early detection. Homeowners are more likely to see evidence of wood damage than the beetles themselves. The first evidence of an infestation is usually very fine sawdust on or beneath wood and small holes, 1/4 to 3/8 inch in diameter where mature adult beetles have emerged from the wood.

The powderpost beetle normally enters homes through unfinished lumber or wood products like furniture or paneling. The longer dry lumber remains in storage, the greater the potential for moisture gain and a powderpost beetle infestation.


  • Always inspect wood prior to purchase. Do not purchase wood with damaged surfaces or with present exit holes.
  • When purchasing wooden objects, check to make sure the wood has been kiln-dried or that it has been sanded and has a varnished finish. Apply shellac or varnish to the surface of untreated wood before bringing it into the home.
  • Avoid using old lumber from improperly maintained wood yards or piles where these beetles may be hiding.

If an infestation is detected, professional treatment during the spring is best as adults are emerging from wood at that time. Many dependable and experienced pest control companies provide effective powderpost beetle control services. If an infestation is extensive, it may be necessary to fumigate and professional pest control will be required for these situations.