Reports of damage by powderpost beetles to home-built hardwood furniture have been received this summer. Lumber cut and not properly kiln dried are very susceptible to these small borers that can reduce shovel handles or furniture structures to mushy wood and lots of sawdust. Powderpost beetles feed on the starch compounds still present in the wood due to improper drying. Host woods containing six to thirty percent moisture content can be host woods for a variety of small boring beetles in the insect family Lyctidae. The beetles get their name from the fact that their feeding produces a fine powdery sawdust on the wood surface when burrowing into untreated or unfinished wood products. To make matters worse the larvae can spend several years burrowing and growing before emerging as adults from the wood.
The first step on controlling powderpost beetles is to determine whether the beetles are still active in the wood. Wipe off all sawdust, then examine the site a few days to a week later. If no new sawdust is evident, control is not necessary. If control is necessary, treatments with Dursban, cypermethrin or a fumigant can be used. These pesticides have to be applied by a licensed professional applicator. Another treatment option is Shell Guard, a borate treatment, and it can be applied by homeowners.
Another option would be to put a sign on the object reading "Antique Furniture" and sell it for a bundle.