Q&A OF THE WEEK: “Can I Get Rid of the Insects Eating the Wood In My Shop?”

Q: How can I get rid of the insects that are boring holes in furniture wood I have stored in my workshop? The holes are less than 1/8” in diameter and only seems to affect several of the newest boards I brought inside. There’s a fine, powdery sawdust around many small, neat holes, with no visible sign of insects.

Holes like these are made by powder post beetles. The edges of the holes are crisp and neat, and it looks like some #6 or#7 1/2 shot gun pellets have penetrated into the wood.

A: It sounds like you’ve got powder post beetles for sure, and you’re right to be concerned because the infestation can (probably will) spread. The good news is that treatment is relatively simple. Borax is a substance that’s safe around humans and pets, but lethal to bugs such as powder post beetles. Two products – Tim-Bor and Boracare – are especially made to kill powder post beetles. They’re easy to find on Google. Treat the affected boards ASAP and you’ll stop the spread to other lumber. Even after treatment, look at all your boards every few days to make sure you didn’t miss any new outbreaks. Powder post beetles can ruin a pile of lumber fairly quickly.

Heating wood in a kiln can also kill powder post beetles, but it’s not easy to accommodate entire planks of wood in what amounts to an oven. If pieces of wood are short, heating can be practical.

On the subject of insects, let me remind you that there are some beautiful and amazing ones out there. Bugs are not all trouble. Back in 2014 we made a video about the hatching of cecropia moths that my son, Jacob, had been working towards.