cypress disintegrating


We have pecky cypress (with whitewash stain) that has been in our house for about 20 years now. I noticed large holes in it, no sawdust around, but it is disentergrating.  Was told by  a professional that if it was bugs we’d see sawdust.  I still believe it could be some type of beetle eating away.  Any idea?  We do bring in firewood for our fireplace. I’ve noticed holes in the firewood.  Should I use Boracare?

First, I’m a little confused by the name “pecky cypress”. I’m not aware of this being a species of tree but I have heard of a fungus that can occur on cypress trees that uses this name. You can see more on this at the following Wiki page; the reference of it appears in the third paragraph of the “Ecology” section of this web page:

Regardless of the correct wood name, I’m still unclear if the wood in question is part of a log home made of cypress or if you have a wall or two inside a traditional home that is covered with the cypress. This could factor in to what should be done so we’ll need to know at some point.

Third, there are many insects that can infest wood and the ones that damage or eat it will generate a wide range of “waste”. This waste can be in the form of pellets, powder or sawdust. Insects like CARPENTER ANTS and CARPENTER BEES don’t eat wood. They only bore through it and during the process will generate a true sawdust much like you’d get from using a saw on wood as you cut through it. DRYWOOD TERMITES will live inside wood eating what they need to survive and in the process they will push out tiny fecal “pellets”. POWDERPOST BEETLES will create a type of fine to coarse powder (depending on the species) and this powder will be very similar in composition to talc powder. Of these options, it sounds like you are seeing something that most resembles talc powder so the possibility of powderpost beetles being active or having been active in the past is what I would guess at this time.

However, I can’t say for sure if you have a “current” problem or not. I have seen many kinds of ornamental and structural wood used in construction that appears sound for 10-20 years or more and then one day someone notices disintegration like you’ve described. In some cases I’ve seen new insect activity causing this disintegration and so a treatment was warranted. In other situations I’ve seen where it’s just old damage that had remained compact and secure for many years but has finally given away and is merely “falling out” of the holes created a long time ago from an insect population which is no longer active. Depending on whether this cypress is part of a log home or just ornamental would factor in to whether or not you should act immediately. Additionally, as explained in our POWDERPOST BEETLE CONTROL ARTICLE, you can’t apply the BORACARE over wood which has a good stain finish. Such a covering will most likely be protecting the wood from water being absorbed which would effectively hinder the treatment and for now prevent anything from being done even if you wanted to do something. The stain can be removed or if it’s old and worn, it may not play be a factor at all.

In summary, since there are clearly some questions we’d have to ask in order to help diagnose just what is happening, I suggest you give us a call toll free at 1-800-877-7290 and ask for Chad or Mike. They can then get some more information and offer up some advice on what you should do.

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

Carpenter Ant Control:

Carpenter Bee Control:

Termite Control:

Powderpost Beetle Control:


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