Powderpost beetles are categorized as major structural pests in the northeast United States. Just like termites, powderpost beetles eat their way into structural wood. Adult powderpost beetles lay their eggs within the cracks and pores of wood. When larvae hatch from these eggs they begin to consume wood in order to digest necessary nutrients. These nutrients include starch, certain sugars and protein, but unlike termites, powderpost beetles are not able to digest cellulose. During the day, these beetles remain hidden under the surface of structural lumber, but at night, the beetles fly out of infested wood through exit-holes. In addition to being major structural pests, powderpost beetles can become a nuisance around a home due to the beetle’s habit of swarming around porch lights and other urban and suburban artificial light sources. Powderpost beetle infestations are particularly frequent in the northeast due to the insect’s abundance in the region. Compared to other US regions, the northeast is home to the greatest variety of powderpost beetle species.

Many powderpost beetle infestations are first noticed when adults emerge from infested structural wood. The time of year when powderpost beetles emerge varies by species. The two most common powderpost beetle species in the northeast US are brown powderpost beetles and European powderpost beetles. The native brown powderpost beetle sees adults emerge in between May and September, with peak emergence occuring during July. The non-native European powderpost beetle sees adults emerge during the summer months as well, but adults from another species, the parallel powderpost beetle species, emerge once during the spring and again during the late summer or early fall. The shiny powderpost beetle and the southern powderpost beetle can also be found in the northeast, but these two species are not nearly as destructive as the above named species. The brown powderpost beetle adult can be recognized for its flat shape and reddish-brown to black exterior. The European species is not as flat as its native counterpart, and they tend to be brown in color. All powderpost beetle species in the northeast grow to lengths measuring 3-7 mm.

Have you ever discovered wood-inhabiting insect pests within your home?