tiny insect in wood statue – beetle or termites?


hi, i bought a beautiful carved wooden animal from Oaxaca mexico that is painted with wonderful designs and I now see that every day there is white powder coming out of it. i now see that there are teeny little holes so it looks like there is some kind of bug in there.  i tried putting it in a plastic bag for a few months to see if i could stop the oxygen but nothing works.  i would love to be able to save this beautiful painted carving.  is there anything i can do that would not destroy the painted finish.  is there anything i should do about the fact that it has been sitting out and i may have infected other areas of the house. any recommendations would be appreciated.

It sounds like you have some kind of wood borer living in the piece and not termites. Borers will produce a powder when emerging; termites will expel droppings that are like pellets and not a powder. As our POWDER POST BEETLE article explains, there are several species of insects which eat wood. Larval stages (little worm like maggots) chew through the wood to get their food requirement. Once this requirement is met, they will pupate to adults and emerge. In most cases, the emerging adults will create a fine talc like powder that will be visible alongside the infested piece of wood. There will also be small exit holes through which this powder came.

There are two treatment options for this problem.

The first would be to inject some FS MP AEROSOL into all the holes you find. This is how furniture which gets infested can be treated and the same approach will work for hand carved wood statues too. If the piece is small, this might do the job both thoroughly and quickly.

If the piece is large, you might get better results drilling some holes on the bottom side and injecting JECTA GEL. Once injected, the gel will permeate throughout the wood and once the wood is completely treated, all the feeding larva will die.

Lastly, if these pieces are unfinished, you could “dunk” them in a BORACARE solution. This would be the “best” treatment option yielding fast, long lasting permanent results.

In all cases there should be no impact on the finish or the piece except the damage caused by the infesting bug.

Here are direct links to the information and products listed above:

Powderpost Beetle Article: http://www.powderpostbeetles.com/powderpost-beetle-control#furniture

And here are the products needed. The FS MP comes with a neat injecting tube so its ready to be applied and is quite easy to use.




The Jecta Gel will require small holes drilled and a caulking gun to apply the gel.




Lastly, the Boracare is mixed 1:1 with water and then applied to unfinished sections of wood. It will readily be absorbed and once in the wood, will protect it for 10-20 years from any wood destroying organism. It won’t alter, stain or leave visible residue on the wood either so after its applied, you won’t know its there.




Give us a call if you need more help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM Mon-Thur; 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM Friday and 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Saturday, Eastern Standard Time.

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Comments on tiny insect in wood statue – beetle or termites? Leave a Comment

March 23, 2016

Passa Caglia @ 7:44 am #

I found your article most interesting but what if you want to protect a large wood sculpture from termites. What is the recommendation in that case? I am a sculptor who works with wood as my main material and have several pieces I’d like to treat but need to know if sprayed inside and out if it would be safe inside a home environment? Any attention to this comment would be most appreciated. Thank you.

March 30, 2016

nancy @ 11:40 am #

I purchased an end table several years ago to go with my coffee table. I started noticing marks on the table like something had been dropped which is weird because it is just my hubby & I. Long story short I took to a furniture place to fix, sand & refinish, turned out beautiful, within a couple of months, same issue, took it back, showed the guy he couldn’t believe it, he fixed again, 3 months later it is starting again. Obviously it has some sort of infection in the wood. Other then having the top replace with new wood, I don’t know what other options I have. Any suggestions!

March 31, 2016
January 14, 2017

Allison @ 4:55 pm #

Thank you so much for this article! I just returned from West Africa with a Guinea Day Bed, a unique piece of African wood art. It is a large, unfinished sculpture which I want to put in my living room. I think the Boracare is best for me but I can’t ‘dunk’ this sculpture into the solution. Can I just sponge it onto the piece? Secondly, I want to finish the piece with some bee’s wax to bring out the designs on it. Is there any risk of doing this after treating it with Boracare?

Thanks again for the help!

January 15, 2017

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