Powderpost Beetle

Last updated: October 3, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Protasov AN/Shutterstock.com

Powderpost beetles prefer living in moist tree limbs, dead wood, and branches. They get into homes through infested joists, paneling, rafters, flooring, and finished wood products.

Powderpost Beetle Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Insecta
Order
Coleoptera
Family
Bostrichidae
Genus
Lyctinae

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Powderpost Beetle Conservation Status


Powderpost Beetle Facts

Name Of Young
Larvae
Group Behavior
  • Infestation
Fun Fact
Powderpost beetles prefer living in moist tree limbs, dead wood, and branches. They get into homes through infested joists, paneling, rafters, flooring, and finished wood products.
Most Distinctive Feature
The pair of short clubbed antennae on their heads
Average Spawn Size
10 to 15 eggs
Habitat
Moist tree limbs, dead wood, and branches
Predators
Birds, snakes, lizards, and bats
Diet
Herbivore
Lifestyle
  • Nocturnal
Common Name
Powderpost beetle
Location
Worldwide
Nesting Location
Wood

Powderpost Beetle Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Red
  • Black
  • Dark Brown
Skin Type
Exoskeleton
Lifespan
2 to 5 weeks
Length
0.11 to 0.24 inches

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Powderpost beetles form part of 70 species of wood-boring beetles that belong to the subfamily Lyctinae. They are members of the superfamily Bostrichoidea, including death watch beetles, spider beetles, skin beetles, and common furniture beetles.

Most of these species have a large prothorax; however, powder beetles do not, which makes their heads more visible. In addition, they have antennae with two-jointed clubs.

These beetles are considered pests because they slowly damage deciduous trees, reducing the wood to dust.

The destruction they cause is often confused with longhorn beetles; however, the two groups are unrelated. Longhorned beetles’ larvae are generally straight, flat-headed, and white, while powderpost beetle larvae are white and C-shaped.

Powderpost Beetle Species, Types, and Scientific Name

These beetles belong to the order Coleoptera, the most significant order under the class Insecta. There are over 250,000 species. The order shows a wide variety of diversity regarding behavior, biology, size, and morphological characteristics.

But they do share similar features, like a pair of hardened front wings called elytra, in addition to their membranous hind wings. They occur in most habitats, from aquatic systems to deserts.

Powderpost beetles are members of the Bostichdae family. Other members include:

  • Branch and twig borers
  • Bostrichid beetles
  • Horned powderpost beetles

These beetles destroy living and dead wood and can cause significant damage to timber and various types of furniture. In addition, they belong to the subfamily Lyctinae, which also includes:

Spider Beetles

Spider beetles are very small and resemble tiny spiders, hence the name. While they only have 6 legs, there are two extensions below the head that look like legs, which is why many people confuse them with spiders.

In addition, they have a smooth outer shell and round bodies, which only enhances their spider-like appearance. The most popular species are the American spider beetle, smooth spider beetles, and white marked spider beetle.

Deathwatch Beetles

Deathwatch beetles are no strangers to urban homes. However, they are not welcome, especially because many believe they are bad omens. Superstitious people believe that they bring death, and this stigma is enhanced by the eery tapping noise they make.

They belong to the Ptinidae family that forms part of the order Coleoptera. However, the family was previously known as Anobiidae.

Signs of an infestation are bore dust left on surfaces or floors after the adults emerge from the wood. However, certain methods can eliminate them, including localized treatment, structural fumigation, and replacing the damaged wood. This treatment needs to occur as soon as they have made themselves known.

Common Furniture Beetles

Common furniture beetles are one of 30 wood-boring beetle species in the USA. Unlike many of their cousins, they prefer new wood as opposed to old wood. As a result, they tend to infest sapwood and softwood timber.

These beetles go through a complete metamorphosis, developing over four stages. Their larvae are white and measure 0.4 inches long. They devour seasoned sapwood timbers, which results in structural damage to new homes, and recently built furniture. However, they are also known for attacking damp wood in older homes.

Appearance: How To Identify the Powderpost Beetle

Powderpost beetles are shaped like tubes; their length ranges from 0.11 to 0.24 inches. These beetles come in various colors, from dark brown to reddish-brown and black. However, their most distinguishing feature is the pair of short clubbed antennae on their heads.

In addition, they are equipped with two pairs of wings, making them excellent flyers. Their larvae are white and C-shaped, more expansive in the front than the back.

Habitat: Where to Find the Powderpost Beetle

Powderpost beetles prefer living in moist tree limbs, dead wood, and branches. They get into homes through infested joists, paneling, rafters, flooring, and finished wood products.

Larvae stay dormant in the wood throughout winter, and adult beetles will only emerge in warmer weather throughout the summer to mate.

Diet: What Do Powderpost Beetles Eat?

Powderpost larvae need sugar, starch, and protein to survive, which they derive from the sapwood of a tree’s soft outer layer or the bark. However, they cannot process cellulose or lignin, which alienates them from other wood materials that do not contain sapwood.

In addition, they cannot survive in environments with low moisture levels, so they prefer humid climates.

Life Cycle of the Powderpost Beetle

These beetles undergo a complete metamorphosis, developing over four life cycles, egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The females will lay their eggs in tiny cracks or pores on the wood surface during the spring.

Once the powder beetle eggs hatch, the larvae will bore into the wood and live off their surroundings for 2 to 12 months. Next, the larvae reach their pupal stage, lasting 2 to 4 weeks.

The duration of the beetle’s pupal stage varies depending on the type of wood, temperature, and moisture content of the wood. It can range from 1 to several years.

By springtime, the pupae have reached adulthood and start to emerge through small exit holes. These beetles immediately begin to look for mates and only live for another 2 to 5 weeks.

Sadly, once the adult beetles mate, they can re-infest the same wood by laying their eggs in the crevice, and the cycle continues over and over again.

Prevention: How to Get Rid of the Powderpost Beetle

Powderpost beetles gain entry to homes through lumber or finished wood products like ornaments, paneling, and furniture. However, untreated, old wood is the most susceptible.

The most significant infestations usually occur in wood that was improperly stored outside. So, people should avoid reusing wood from woodpiles or old barns in their DIY projects.

Always ask if the wooden objects you are purchasing are made with kiln-dried wood or wood that has been sanded or varnished. However, applying shellac, varnish, or paint can still protect untreated wood.

Because these beetles require moisture to survive, introducing moisture barriers in the crawlspaces of infested structures may help kill the larvae. However, there is no guarantee or foolproof method of destroying these pests as they can still re-enter the home in professionally cured and stored lumber.

Removal Methods

Infestations that occur in small areas or single objects can be destroyed by removing the infested wood. However, additional control is vital if signs point to a larger infestation. There are numerous insecticidal treatments available that you can apply to the surface of exposed wood.

But this is always risky because there is no guarantee these insecticides can penetrate deep enough to have an effect. However, they will help with re-infestation because the chemicals will kill the adults once they emerge from the wood.

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About the Author

I am a 33-year-old creative and professional writer from South Africa. Wildlife is one of my greatest passions and led me to become the writer I am today. I was very blessed to work with an abundance of wildlife (mainly big cats) and captured my unique experiences in writing. But I wanted to take it further, and I ventured into the freelancing world. Now, I get to spend my days writing about animals; what could be better?

Powderpost Beetle FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the best treatment for powder post beetles?

Infestations that occur in small areas or single objects can be destroyed by removing the infested wood. However, additional control is vital if signs point to a larger infestation. There are numerous insecticidal treatments available that you can apply to the surface of exposed wood.

What does a powder post beetle eat?

The sapwood of a tree’s soft outer layer or the bark.

Do you get powder post beetles in UK?

Yes, there are powderpost beetles in the UK.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powderpost_beetle
  2. Orkin Canada, Available here: https://www.orkincanada.ca/pests/beetles/powderpost-beetles/
  3. Pestworld for Kids, Available here: https://www.pestworldforkids.org/pest-guide/beetles/#Powderpost-Beetles

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