how to tell if you have a powderpost beetle problem

About 6-8 months ago, we started to find on a regular basis 2-3 powderpost beetles at a time. upstairs mainly, bed room, bathroom, water bowls, beds, closets, around windowsills [which needed sealing off – just fixed it].

My question – what number constitute an infestation? Will these few die off on its own? plus we have not been able to find the source, so it’s been baffling to know where to begin. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

To answer your questions; no number and yes. In other words, no number constitutes an infestation. For example, I’ve been in homes that have hundreds seen daily but in fact they don’t have an active infestation. Conversely I’ve been in homes where no live beetles have been found but in fact they had an infestation. Based on this information, there is no way you can tell from how many you’re seeing if you have an active infestation or not.

Now will they die off by their own? Yes. But why is this important? As explained in our POWDERPOST BEETLE CONTROL ARTICLE, adults want to mate and lay eggs and that’s it. After they lay eggs they typically die but the key here is the fact they can lay eggs. So if you have a home or items in the home that are able to sustain PPB young, you should be concerned about whether this is in fact happening and not about whether the adults will be dying because they most certainly will.

As for advice, I have a few suggestions. First and foremost, make sure what you’re seeing is in fact PPB. I’ve dealt with many instances where PPB were thought to exist but in fact they didn’t. To know for sure, get an independent agent to identify them. Do this by bringing him/her some samples. Your local extension agent should be able to do this accurately and since they have no vested interest one way or the other, they should prove trustworthy regarding their assessment of the sample. There are at least 2-3 other “beetles” that look very similar to PPB and all of these are commonly mistaken for one another.

Next, look through the home for any little exit holes from which these guys might be leaving. Anything made from wood should be inspected. This includes staircases, wood floors, furniture, molding, toys, cabinets, etc. You should also look outside. Many times there are nearby trees or outside furniture which can harbor these beetles and from this nest location many can release. Inevitably, some will end up inside any nearby home. This is especially true in the fall and spring when homes typically have windows open and direct pathways to inside living spaces like where you’re finding them.

And since you mentioned you started seeing them as long ago as 8 months, that would put the calendar back to February of this year. Typically this is a cold time of year and if where you reside is from the mid to northern part of the US, seeing adults live during the winter would tell me you most likely have an inside nest site. But if it was really in the spring, like April or May, then they could be coming from the outside because by then it would be warm enough outside for them to be active.

In summary, what you need to do now is twofold. First, make sure what you’re seeing is in fact Powderpost Beetles. Second, search diligently for any sign of exit holes in wood that exists in the home, on the home or close to the home outside. Finding any site that appears to have talc like powder leaking out of cracks or crevices and/or any small holes visible would be good indicators of activity and this could turn out to be the source of what you’re seeing if in fact they are PPB. Once your beetle id is known for sure and the local area thoroughly inspected, give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290.

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