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Is Your Furniture Being Reduced to a Pile of Dust by The Powder Post Beetle?

By April (Aunt_AAugust 22, 2008

What could be happening to your furniture? Are bugs munching in your table as you enjoy your dinner on your table? Are unexplained piles of dust invading your home? Am I making this up? Read on...

Gardening picture


Recently, DawnLL, a Dave's Garden member wrote a warning to her Dave's Garden friends. This warning turned out not to be just tittle-tattle. It may be applicable to you. Dawn wrote:


"We purchased a new dining room set back in November...well, everything was going well until a few weeks ago. I started noticing a creamy-colored type powder on our black vinyl chairs - at the time I honestly didn't think much of it. It reminded me of cereal powder. This happened day after was strange - I starting thinking maybe this was something more, however I didn't look into it...again just thinking it was the kids making a mess."

 Powder on chair Copyright DawnLL Powder on Chair Copyright DawnLL 

 Powder on Dawn's Chair

  Powder on Dawn's Chair


Dawn continued her story by stating that the children were away one evening. However, the next morning piles of powder were on the chairs again. This time Dawn and her husband knew that the problem was not children enjoying cereal.

"... since the kids weren't even home. Of course, he pulls out the...flashlight and heads under the table. He notices holes under the table - like some type of burrowing insect and the powder is coming from these holes!!!!! He said termites right away - I freaked out!"

Dawn called some Pest Control companies. She was advised beetles were living in the wood and that they would simply "eat it all from the inside out". The companies said they could try to treat the problem, but it would probably be the best to just get rid of the table.  Dawn wrote:

"Okay, at this point I am FUMING MAD!" "I didn't know if the furniture place we purchased this from would replace our table since these beetles obviously came into our home through!!! Of course, I called the furniture place. To make a long story short, they told us they would replace the whole set with the same style we already had or we could go back to the store and pick something else out - which is what we did. I just felt too creeped out in getting the same style." 

 She continued:

 "I was so stressed over this whole ordeal - I am not kidding you. I am still...mad over it. I am just worried that these wood burrowing beetles could have gotten into something else of ours...the pest control people said likely not, since (the beetle's larvae) are enjoying the wood they are in now. So, I will take their word for it and keep an eye out."

Dawn then stated:

"Like I said, this whole thing just gives me the willies and I can't believe this happened to us. I have NEVER had anything like that happen before and I have already told several others who have never seen anything like this either. Just thought I would share, in case something similar happens to someone never really know what could be lurking..."

 Bettle damage copyright Dawn LL Beetle from furnitur copyright DawnLL
 Underside of table and beetles exit holes Beetle from Dawn's Dining Room Table


After reading the thread, I was intrigued so I asked Dawn for permission to use her story. She agreed and even sent me the pictures for this article. (All of the above pictures are copyrighted by DawnLL.) I searched for more information on the internet and found the following on various sites:

  • Powder post beetles can "damage...and eventually destroy all exposed wood in houses, including furniture and paneling." This includes hardwood floors.1
  • There are different families of powder post beetles. Each family has its own taste preferences and might not switch to eat other wood. I guess you could call them picky fiber eaters.2
  • Even if you paint or varnish the wood, the grubs or larvae in the wood will continue to eat and grow for a period of 1 year to perhaps even 10 years before exiting as adults. Yes, you read that correctly, the larvae stage can last between 1 to 10 years.4,5
  • The holes that are left behind are actually exits, where the adult has left the building.2
  • Given enough time, the larvae can enervate wood, reducing substantial amounts of wood to a mass of fine powder.3
  • Exit holes "normally range in diameter from 1/32 inch, (0.8 mm) to 1/8 inch (3 mm), depending on the species of beetle."3
  • Powder post beetles can infect anything wood, from "wooden tools or tool handles, frames, furniture, gun stocks, books, toys, bamboo, flooring, and structural timbers."3
  • These larvae can turn beautiful furniture into nothing more than just brummagem wares.
  • A variety of suggestions to eradicate the beetles and larvae are posted on the internet. I suggest that you search the web and do your own research before calling your local pest control company.

During my research, I concluded that powder post beetles serve an important function in our world; they are basically scavengers that delight in gleaning and cleaning up dead wood. This wood is reduced to a wonderfully fine powder that breaks down nicely in our gardens and lawns. So, powder post beetle larvae, if you are reading this article as you chew on the desk, please relocate to the dead tree outside the window.


















  About April  
AprilThe garden in my head is better than the one in my yard. However, I plant at least one tree every year and have left every home with a little more green than it had before. I hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as I enjoy writing them. Editor's note: Aunt_A passed away on 12-06-2010. We will miss her greatly and are thankful for her legacy of wonderful articles.

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