Powderpost Beetle

Actual Size: 1/16-1/8 inch long

Characteristics: Light tan, reddish-brown, or almost black. Typically flat and long-bodied.


  • Powder post beetles feed on hardwoods.
  • It can go for years without any indication of activity.
  • Larvae can live within hardwood for up to five years.
  • Emerge in spring.

Powderpost Beetle Identification

Powderpost beetles are a broad category of beetles that live within and eat hardwoods, reducing timber to fine powder-like sawdust. Several species are included in this description, including lyctids, anobiids, and bostrichids. All of these beetles are typically under ¼ inch, and some are only 1/16 of an inch. Ranging from a reddish-brown to a light tan, powderpost beetles have long, narrow, flat bodies.

Their appearance is less important than the aftermath of their destruction. Powderpost beetles prefer to live deep within hardwoods, and will very seldom emerge. Typically, the only indication of their presence is the sawdust they leave behind, and the holes that remain after adults emerge in spring.

Powderpost Beetle Behavior

Powderpost beetles prefer unfinished hardwood and will avoid softwoods. They will not attempt to tunnel in varnished woods, though eggs and larvae can be sealed within hardwoods, resulting in emerging adults later on.

A female powderpost beetle will lay 50 eggs at a time, choosing hardwood that suits the individual needs of the species. (Some prefer more moisture, others prefer high cellulose content over starch). Larvae will emerge one to five years later in spring. An adult powderpost beetle will not typically live for longer than a year.

Are Powderpost Beetles Dangerous?

Powderpost beetles aren’t a direct threat to humans, but they do cause millions of dollars in damage each year. Because they can damage wood in a thorough and nearly undetectable way, an infestation can go for years without being noticed.

Powderpost Beetle Control

Prevention and early detection are the best ways to avoiding serious powderpost beetle issues. Look for sawdust and holes on and around the hardwood.

  • These beetles typically enter a home through unfinished furniture, poorly stored lumber, or wood that has been stored for a long time.
  • Do not buy lumber or furniture with holes or damage.
  • Seal unfinished furniture before bringing it inside.

If you do find tiny holes or other evidence of emerging powderpost beetles, call for professional help immediately. This is the best time to treat, control, and prevent another infestation.