Summer is the time of year when people are easily lured to yard and estate sales. The finds can be great ranging from antiques to nearly new items. One thing to keep in mind, is when choosing wooden items like furniture and frames, and baskets, always scout for signs of insect infestation such as holes or sawdust.

During the summer months in Florida, our extension office receives phone calls from garage and estate sale bargain hunters looking for help to treat their furniture against insect infestations. This usually coincides when they bring their purchases home after having sat in their garages or from previous infested locations and brings it in the airconditioned home.

Unfortunately, standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover their removal. These pests are active all year in Florida and may be dormant up to five years. Infestations develop slowly, but wood can be reinfested year after year. Once they are established in your home; they are harder to get rid of.

Powderpost damage of hardwood floors due to feeding. Note sawdust at entry holes. Photo Credit: North Carolina State University
Powderpost beetle Photo Credit:


These beetles are harmless to humans and do not bite. However, powderpost beetles can be serious pests of your structures!  Beetle larvae live in and consume dry, seasoned wood.

This includes:

  • beams, sills, joists, studs, subflooring and plywood
  • both hardwood and softwood furniture, wall paneling, window and door molding, and hardwood floors


    Advanced damage of Powderpost beetles with tunnels filled with frass. Photo Credit: University of Kentucky


Look for signs of feeding damage on your furniture.  Signs of infestations include: recent holes (ranging in size from 1/16”-1/8” in diameter), powder-like dust, sawdust or gritty frass, or by the sound of feeding that may be heard (clicking or rasping sound). I have used my stethoscope here.



  • Sealants deter beetles. Paint, varnish, or wax to seal the wood. Once treated, re-seal existing holes to prevent re-infestation.
  • Replace localized damaged wood with clean, treated wood.
  • Spray or paint insecticide to penetrate into infested wood, creating a protective barrier.


To remove the pest, the lumber can be kiln-dried for hours PRIOR to using in construction (shelves, woodworking, flooring etc…). Borate wood preservatives treatments such as BoraCare®, and Tim-bor® Professional, with low-toxicity products can be used. Follow label directions for use.  If you have an isolated piece of furniture that needs treatment, contact your local pest control company that offers fumigation chambers. They tend to charge by furniture weight and offer the most effective treatment within 12-24 hours. Compare prices as it varies by location and size of the furniture.  For more information on powerpost beetles, contact your local UF/IFAS extension office.


by Karen Stauderman

Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert


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