Ask the Expert: Question of the Week
Q: I have a potential customer with a solid oak living room floor and it appears to have a powderpost beetle infestation. How can I tell if it is active and can I perform a topical treatment or do I have to ask them to strip the flooring?
A: It sounds like the floor has an infestation of Lyctid or Anobiid powderpost beetles. Lyctines prefer hardwoods while Anobiids will infest hardwoods or soft woods. The emergence holes look similar and if the frass and hole walls are light colored, that usually means that the wood particles have not oxidized into a darker color and thus would be considered fresh or active. You rarely see the actual insect. Pay careful attention, for if the holes appear to have any cross sections of galleries, that means that the damage was done by an insect prior to milling and then is not a concern. Some states do require determining if the infestation is active if this is a real estate transaction. If there is question or hesitance on the part of the homeowner, you can photo or mark the holes and return later in the season to see if there are new holes.
If you do decide to treat, most insecticides must penetrate the wood so the polyurethane must be removed for optimal effectiveness. Check the label and manufacturer’s information for more information on how to use specific products.