Whenever you come across a problem, it’s necessary to first identify the cause(s). That is, whether the damage is due to powderpost beetle activity or termites.
So, are you having difficulty telling apart damage caused by powderpost beetles and termites?
This article will serve as a guide towards proper identification.
Powderpost Beetle Vs Termite
When it comes to pests well known for causing structural damage, powderpost beetles and termites easily come to mind.
These all have an appetite for wood (softwood and hardwood) and will readily chew and tunnel through such wood. For powderpost beetles, their larvae are largely responsible for damage caused.
Common Powderpost Beetle and Termite Species
Before we go further, it’s necessary to first identify the different species of powderpost beetles as well as termites.
As earlier stated, powderpost beetles are largely made up of different beetle species whose larvae destroy wood by boring through it.
Such larvae also feed on wood.
i. Powderpost Beetle Species
The most common powderpost beetle species known to destroy include Anobiid powderpost beetles, Lyctid powderpost beetles, and Bostrichid powderpost beetles.
The larval stages of each of these powderpost beetle species have their unique characteristics.
Anobiid Powderpost Beetles
This species of powderpost beetles get into homes through infested lumber as well as firewood.
Another way such a problem starts is when adult Anobiid powderpost beetles fly in to deposit their eggs.
Signs of the presence and activity of these larvae include wood damage, exit holes, and leftover wood powder or frass.
Lyctid Powderpost Beetles
Lyctid powder post beetles mostly attack woods like walnut, ash, hickory, and oak. When left untreated, their destructive activity can easily worsen.
They re-infest wood by laying eggs in exit holes through which female larvae have emerged.
Bostrichid Powderpost Beetles
This is another common powderpost beetle species that can infest homes.
As their eggs hatch into larvae, such larvae slowly tunnel through wood with common signs that include powder or frass scattered round exit holes.
Like all powderpost beetle species, fully developed larvae emerge through exit holes.
ii. Termite Species
Like powderpost beetles, termites are also distinguished by the different species.
The most common species include subterranean termites, dampwood termites, drywood termites, and Formosan termites.
Of these species, the subterranean, drywood, and Formosan termites are home invaders.
Dampwood termites are mostly found outdoors and targeted rotting and dampwood.
All species will readily target cellulose-containing items ranging from lumber, trees, furniture, books, house siding, wood framing, and firewood among many others.
Powderpost Beetles Vs Termites
Having highlighted some characteristics of both powderpost beetles and termites, it’s time to make comparisons in terms of the type and nature of damage caused.
Are there any physical similarities between the two? How does their destructive action differ? The level or extent of destruction also matters.
Any Physical Similarities?
When it comes to physical attributes, there’s little to no physical similarity between powderpost beetles and termites. However, you might be lucky to find flying insects around affected areas.
If so, it solves the problem of identification. Flying insects only need to be closely observed to see if they’re termites.
There’s no form of resemblance between powderpost beetles and termites.
The closest similarity between the two will be seen as damage.
Nature of Destruction
It’s no secret that both powderpost beetles and termites target wood. The tunnel through and feed on wood. This feeding activity results in holes.
When both of these pests feed, they eject frass or wood powder from tiny holes.
However, the difference between the two is what happens after creating the hole.
Holes created by powderpost beetles remain and are never covered while drywood termites do a little “maintenance” work by sealing or filling it back with mud-like material.
So, when mud-like material is found on affected wood, it’s most likely you have a termite problem.
Extent of Destruction
Termites easily beat the competition when it comes to the extent of the damage. These termites cause heavy damage to structures. Powderpost beetles are no match at all.
One termite species that are known to be highly destructive is the Formosan termite. A single colony can contain as many as 10 million members.
Formosan termites will burrow through walls to get to a food source. This is why termite problems are feared by homeowners due to the level of damage caused.
Depending on the species, termite infestations can be identified by several signs that include frass or termite droppings, mud tunnels, and mud coverings on wood.
Other signs pointing to the presence of termites include bubbling paint, hollow sound, clicking noises, and swarms. What more?
You’re likely to find scattered termite wings, warped doors, and rigid windows as well as tree nesting sites.
Timeline of Activity
As stated earlier, powderpost beetle larvae are largely responsible for the damage caused to wood. These emerge from eggs laid by female powderpost beetles.
The destructive activity involves the creation of zigzag tunnels through the wood and only exit when they’re fully developed.
Previously infested wood can be re-infested again by powderpost beetles.
For termites, such destruction is perpetual. In other words, the destruction of wood and other cellulose-containing substances goes on for as long as it remains.
Also, the damage goes on for as long as there’s no human intervention by way of treatments.
This is the reason why termite infestations are feared more than any wood damaging pests. You’ll have to be alert to any developing issues.
If you live in a termite-prone area or suspect an early infestation, it’s best to call the pros. Preventive treatment is often the best form of termite control.
Getting Rid of Both Problems
Powderpost beetle presence or activity being the lesser of two evils still requires urgent action. When they’re found to be responsible, it’s best to call for professional help.
An infestation that’s allowed to linger on only worsens with time. The same applies to termites which are more problematic to have.
You must avoid all DIY treatment options as these aren’t comprehensive enough to tackle the problem.
These are the key differences between powderpost beetles and termites. We’ve also included some areas of similarities as well.
When an infestation is observed, it’s necessary to take a closer look at what the real causes are before finding solutions.