Many homeowners opt for hardwood flooring to enhance the beauty and value of their property. They become dismayed when they see tiny holes in their floors, ones that are surrounded by fine sawdust. They want to know why these holes are present and how to eliminate them and prevent them from returning. Beetles love to make their home in these floors and must be addressed immediately. Most likely the homeowner is dealing with lyctus or true powderpost beetles.
Identifying Powderpost Beetles
Powderpost beetles love to make their home in hardwood floors. They create holes that are approximately 1/16″ in diameter and feed on sapwood. The hardwoods contain large pores that provide the perfect spot for the female beetles to lay eggs, and most beetles found in the state are either the southern lyctus or brown lyctus beetle. As the starch in hardwood floors declines over the years, most infestations are seen in newer floors during the spring and early summer months.
Where Do They Live?
Lyctus beetles prefer populated areas as opposed to woods and forests. When they find exposed wood or finished flooring waiting to be installed, they move in. They can only do so before the wood is sealed. Once varnish, wax, or another sealant has been applied, they cannot lay their eggs in the wood and must find a new place to reside.
Larvae feed on the unsealed wood and tunnel inside it. There may be a few beetles present in the wood or it may be heavily infested. This spends in part on the amount of starch present for their feeding needs. Many new hardwood floors have at least minor damage from the beetles, and the amount of damage seen depends in part on the amount of moisture in the floor. The more moisture, the larger the infestation. This damage continues for the lifespan of the insects present but decreases over time. This is due to the moisture content of the wood declining. Fortunately, this damage is limited to hardwoods in the home. Other surfaces remain safe from infestations.
Addressing Lyctus Beetles
Light infestations of lyctus beetles tend to resolve on their own. The homeowner needs to keep the moisture level low and ensure the floor remains properly sealed. For large infestations, replacement of the affected boards becomes necessary. The floor must then be refinished to seal any holes and prevent reinfestation. Major infestations, however, call for the entire floor to be stripped. Damaged boards are then replaced, the floor is treated with an insecticide, and the floor is refinished. Finally, tenting the building and having it professionally fumigated is the last resort and is rarely called for except in cases of structural infestation.
If you suspect you have lyctus beetles in your hardwood floors, you may choose to start with a wait-and-see approach. Doing so makes sense in many cases, but it never hurts to have an exterminator out to assess the situation. If the problem is bigger than you initially imagined, quick action can help to rectify the problem before it spreads any further. This likewise helps to keep costs down, which homeowners are sure to appreciate.