Powder Post Beetle in a hardwood floor

8 December 2010

In recent years it has become increasingly popular to remove carpets from our homes and replace with solid wood flooring. A worthy investment as it looks great, feels fantastic and will last for years – or will it? In the case of the solid wood floor below the oak also came with an uninvited guest in the form of Powder Post Beetles.

What are Powder Post Beetles?

Powder Post Beetles (Lyctus brunneus) are woodworms that attack the sapwood of hardwoods such as Oak and Elm – the beetles do not infest varnished, painted or treated wood. The beetles are a very specialised creature and will only go for sapwood that has a starch content of greater than 3%. As wood ages the starch content lessens as a result of bacterial action and after approx. 10 years the levels will be so low that no infestation is possible. As the beetles are very specific (wide pored hardwoods with sufficient starch content) it is highly unlikely that normal domestic properties contain such timbers, except where they have been introduced, for example, in the form of a new hardwood floor. It is also very unlikely that the insect will have flown into the property. It is almost certain that the insect infestation occurred where the timber was originally stored – for example a timber yard.

What to do if you suspect you have Powder Post Beetle in a solid wood floor

  • Firstly there needs to be correct identification of the infestation. Incorrect identification could result in unnecessary chemical treatments. Timberwise are experts in all forms of woodworm infestations and can help you. Call 0800 288 8660 or request a woodworm survey on-line.
  • If the outbreak is confirmed as Powder Post Beetle it must be considered that the floor timbers were infested prior to been purchased and being laid.
  • The contractor who laid the floor or the suppliers of the timber should be contacted as the floor should be considered as not of merchantable quality. It could be argued that exit holes also make the timber not fit for purpose as they ruin the aesthetics.
Powder Post emergence holes and frass

Powder Post emergence holes and frass

Powder Post beetle and emergence hole

Powder Post beetle and emergence hole

Powder Post beetle damage

Powder Post beetle damage