dead tree with sawdust

We have a big Halloween party every year.  One of the main decorations is a dead tree that I bring in, put orange lights on and scary decorations.  This year the tree has some kind of bugs that are making a “saw-dust” mess.  A friend believes they are powderpost beetles.

Before bringing the tree, in we sprayed it with Cutter’s Backyard Bug control and let it sit outside for several days.  Then, when I first saw the dust, I sprayed the tree with a household bug spray used for ants and household plants.

We brought the tree in over the weekend and it will only be up for eleven more days.  Do we need to worry about the beetles in the house?  Is there anything we can do to kill them?

If in fact you are seeing sawdust like what you’d see if you were using a wood saw to cut the tree, it’s more likely the tree has CARPENTER ANTS or CARPENTER BEES. If you read our POWDERPOST BEETLE CONTROL ARTICLE, you’ll learn they create a fine “talc like” powder and not sawdust like you described. Another good indicator will be the holes from which the sawdust is coming. First, do you even see holes in the tree? PINE BORERS live and bore between the bark and inner tree trunk. They create sawdust when feeding and if you don’t see any holes or damaged wood leading directly to the middle of the tree, I would then lean toward a boring pest of some kind.  Carpenter Ants and Carpenter Bees will be easy to spot and in fact will most likely still be “outward active” compared to something like Pine Borers which will try to hide and typically stay latent or hidden most of the time.

Regarding the pest and the possibility that it might spread to the inside of your home; without knowing the exact insect involved it’s hard for me to say with any certainty. However, I do know the products you’ve applied will not handle this type of problem no matter what it turns out to be and if you intend on saving the tree for any length of time, you’ll most definitely need to do some more treating with one of our products. My instinct tells me BORACARE would be the one product that could cover it all but again, without knowing for sure what you have even that guess wouldn’t be 100% guarantee to cover what’s active. For now I recommend you give our office a call and ask for Mike or Chad. Use our toll free 1-800-877-7290 number and after asking a few questions, I’m sure they’ll have a better understanding of just what’s going on and at that point will be able to make an educated suggestion on how to best treat.

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

Carpenter Ants:

Carpenter Bees:

Powderpost Beetle Control Article:

Pine Borer Control:


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