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Powder Post Beetles

Powder Post Beetles

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Published by draculavanhelsing
fact sheet
fact sheet

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: draculavanhelsing on Mar 20, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Powderpost Beetles
Pests that can attack seasoned hardwood timbercausing structural damage are of major concern tothe householder. Powderpost beetles are one of theborers found in Australia.Powderpost beetles belong to the subfamilyLyctinae in the family Bostrichidae. They are sonamed because their larvae can reduce susceptibletimber to a fine flour-like powder (Figure 1).
Figure 1.
Larvae of powderpost beetlescan reduce susceptibletimber to a fine flour-like powder.
Figure 2
. Adultpowderpostbeetle
Lyctus brunneus.
Adults are up to 7 mm long, dark-brown, shiny,flattened, elongate insects (Figure 2). They have adistinct head and the terminal segments on theirantennae have a clubbed appearance. Larvae arecream-coloured with brown head and jaws and 3pairs of small jointed legs. On hatching, they areabout 0.5 mm long and straight-bodied but laterbecome C-shaped.
Biology and life cycle
Powderpost beetles are pests of the sapwood of certain hardwood timber species. Species displayminor differences in appearance, habits and longevity.The life cycle and habits of our most common lyctinespecies,
, are presented below.After mating, the female beetle seeks a suitable placefor egg-laying and bites the wood, leaving a series of grooves on the surface. These tasting marks may serveto determine whether the timber contains starch, theessential larval dietary requirement, and they alsoexpose wood pores for subsequent egg-laying. Shelays into the open pores of the sapwood. Each femalemay lay a total of 70 eggs, with a usual limit of 3 eggsin any pore.Eggs hatch after about 14 days and larvae feed on thestarch in the sapwood until fully grown. Tunnelsusually follow the grain of the wood and only thelarval stage destroys timber. The development periodfor larvae varies from 2 to 12 months depending ontemperature, humidity and the supply of starch in thesapwood.Fully-grown larvae tunnel towards the wood surfaceand excavate small oval cells where pupation takesplace. Two to 3 weeks later, mature beetles begin toemerge through the surface of infested timber, eachmaking a round hole (1-2 mm diameter) as it emerges.Small piles of frass associated with the emergenceholes may collect on the surface of infested timber orfall nearby. Emerging adults push a small amount of frass out, but larvae moving within the sapwood alsocause frass to continue to fall from emergence holesand from cracks in the timber.After emergence, the mature beetles mate and egg-laying begins. Re-infestation of timber is common andmay continue until the food resource is completelyutilised, usually within 4 to 5 years of felling.
Figure 3.
Various sapwood-heartwoodconfigurations can be found in sawn timber.
It is emphasised that lyctine beetles attack only thesapwood (Figure 3) of certain hardwoods and do notattack softwoods.Three conditions govern susceptibility: moisturecontent, pore size and starch content. Wood withabout 15 per cent moisture content is most suitablefor development of larvae. Only hardwoods havepores and lyctines attack only the sapwood of hardwood species with pores larger than thediameter of the ovipositor of the female. Susceptibletimber species must also contain enough starch tonourish the developing larvae. The heartwood of hardwoods is never infested, although adults mayemerge through it. Coniferous woods have differentfood reserves and cell structure and therefore are notsusceptible.Most attacks take place at the saw-mill, in logs orsawn timber that are drying. Evidence of infestationmay not become apparent until the timber is in-service and adults begin to emerge. Infested timbercontains numerous galleries packed with finepowdery frass. The whole of the infested area maybe reduced to powder leaving only a shell of woodon the outside, perforated by emergence holes.Small piles of frass may be found where a galleryhas broken the surface or where an adult beetle hasemerged. The frass is smooth and floury (not gritty)when rubbed between the fingers.Infestation may occur anywhere in the structure wheresusceptible timber has been used (for example, insubfloor areas, living space, roof space, or in furnitureand artefacts). In new houses, emergence holes mayappear in the lining materials (for example, inplasterboard and panelling) and joinery. Such holes aremade by adults emerging from the hardwood framingbeneath.
No single treatment for lyctine attack is suitable in allcircumstances. The following options are available:
In most circumstances no control measures arerequired because the damage is not of structuralsignificance. For example, damage to a section of afence paling may be of little consequence. Exitholes in plasterboard, overlying a small section of infested sapwood in the framing material, can beeasily filled to restore the original appearance.However, appearance holes may continue for ayear or longer, depending upon the amount of sapwood available for infestation. Whereappearances are important, control measures maybe required. For example, damage in floors orpanelling may be of consequence. If lyctinedamage is found in a building more than 5 yearsold, control measures are not usually necessary,because supplies of susceptible material shouldhave been exhausted.
In some cases removal of infested sapwood fromaffected timber may be easy. For example,sapwood can be chiselled from an infestedhardwood post in a pergola.
The replacement of affected timber with non-susceptible material may be a practical option. Forexample, an infested floorboard, windowsill ortable leg can be replaced to remove the infestation.
Items of furniture can be disinfested by fumigation.Small items, like carved souvenirs, are disinfestedby placing them in a freezer for a week or so.

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