What Do Wood Destroying Beetles Look Like?

When wood destroying beetles get into a home they can do a lot of damage, both to the structure of the home and to the belongings inside. That is why it is important to know a wood-damaging beetle when you see one. Here are a few of the beetles that can attack the wood of your home, and how to identify them.

What Do Flathead Beetles Look Like?

Flathead Beetles are wood-boring insects that are usually only seen as adult beetles. When the large flathead pine heartwood borer (Coleoptera virginiensis) takes to the air it reveals a shiny blue-green metallic coloring that is usually concealed by its wings. These beetles can be anywhere between ¼ of an inch to 2 ½ inches in length, and are a mixture of tan, brown, and green coloring. Their almond shape and contrasted abdomen pattern help to easily distinguish them from other beetles.

If you have firewood next to you home, you could have issues with these beetles. They attack dead or stressed trees, as well as rotting wood, stumps, and wood used to burn in your fire.

What Do Powderpost Beetles Look Like?

The insects most commonly called powderpost beetles here in the United States are in the family Bostrichidae and are considered "true" powderpost beetles, though there is no general agreement among entomologists as to which beetles should be classified "true" powderpost beetles--or if the term "powder post" should be used at all. Powderpost beetles can also be in the families Lyctidae, and Anobiidae.

This is a tiny, brown, long, pill-shaped insect, with a bumpy brown abdomen that is usually less than ¼ of an inch long. Their tiny size and elongated cylinder shape make these bugs easy to recognize.  

As their name suggests, powder-post beetles reduce wood to a powder-like substance called frass. This frass can look different depending on what beetle made it, but they all have a similar course powder texture.

These insects prefer freshly felled logs and unseasoned sawn lumber. When powder-post beetles get into a home, they can attack furniture, banisters, and other hardwood products, leaving only tiny exit holes as a sign of their presence.

What Do Deathwatch Beetles Look Like?

Wood-boring beetles in the family Anobiidae are referred to as deathwatch beetles. The deathwatch beetle Xestobium rufovillosum, is a tiny, brown beetle with tan speckles that is less than a ½ inch in length. These elongated oval bugs will often pull their legs in and play dead if you tap them.

This beetle likes old furniture and decaying wood. When it gets into the wood of a home or a piece of furniture, it will sometimes make its presence known by clicking its head against tunnel walls. This clicking sound was once believed to be a harbinger that someone was about to die, hence the name "deathwatch" beetle.

What Do Longhorned Beetles Look Like?

Wood-boring beetles in the family Cerambycidae are considered long-horned beetles. The Asian longhorned beetle Anoplophora glabripennis is black with white dots and antennae that are longer that its entire body, which is how it got the long-horned name. This beetle is bullet-shaped and between ¾ to 1 ½ inches in length.

These beetles are a relatively new threat here in North America. They predominantly attack maple trees but can be found attacking poplars, elms, willows, horse chestnuts, mulberries, and more.

What Do Old House Borers Look Like?

Another wood boring beetle in the family Cerambycidae is the old house borer. This insect is black and bullet-shaped, but lacks the extremely long antennae of the long-horned beetle. The old house borer has a noticeable separation between its thorax and abdomen that makes it look like it has a giant head, but it does not.

This is considered to be one of the most injurious wood-boring beetles. And, though its name implies that it only attacks old houses, these insects are most often found in homes that are under seven years of age.

Pest Management For Wood Boring Beetles

If you are finding any of these beetles, their larvae, frass, or exit holes, it is vital to have a pest specialist take a look. Wood boring pests can do damage to valuable belongings and other wooden items in your home. Some will also tunnel through structural timbers and weaken the structure of your home. It is never a good idea to let these pests go untreated.


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