Sometimes you may have seen problems with insects infesting stored foods. Two of these may easily be confused with wood infesting pests if we make a snap judgment on the identification. The True Powderpost Beetles vs. The Flour Beetles. Both of these will have the same basic appearance and size. They are very small, usually only an eighth of an inch long, and are narrow, somewhat flattened from top to bottom, and often will have the same reddish-orange color. The Powderpost beetles often will also be dark brown to black, but there actually are other flour beetles that are less common than the Red and Confused flour beetles, and these others may be larger and black as well, and given names such as the Black Flour Beetle or Slender Flour Beetle.
So, size, shape, and color are not good diagnostic characters that absolutely tell you what beetle you have discovered in this home, but the importance of being able to determine if it is a food pest or a structural wood pest is high. You cannot control it if you do not know what it is, and for proper identification you need some basic tools. These include a means to magnify the tiny insect so you can see some important characters. In the field a hand magnifier may be sufficient, and one that is at least 16X power should be used. In the office a better tool would be a dissecting microscope that enables you to magnify the insect much more, making it very easy to see even small characters on the insect. In the case of a Powderpost beetle the characters that distinguish it are:
- Antenna long and thin, composed of 11 segments with the last TWO segments enlarged to form a club – flour beetles have a much shorter antenna and the last 3 segments are enlarged
- The prothorax is wider at the front edge than at the posterior edge – the prothorax is the main part of the thorax in front of the wings
- The prothorax has a distinct depressed area in the middle on top – flour beetles do not have this concave area
- A more distinct separation exists between the prothorax and the wings, and the elytra (those hard wings on top) in general are more elongate
- Both the prothorax and the elytra are covered with rows of fine hairs – flour beetles are much shinier and without these long hairs.
Another way to recognize the presence of the True Powderpost Beetle is from its namesake – that extremely fine, powdery dust that falls from the wood once the adult beetle emerges. This is the fecal material from the larva, produced as it fed its way through the wood, and it remains loose in the feeding channels as the larva moves along. Once the wood is opened this frass falls out and onto whatever surface is below, and it will continue to sift out of the wood for many years if the opening is not sealed over. This is most obvious when the infestation is in wood that is vertical or above another surface, and less noticeable for a horizontal surface such as flooring. On floors it will be the tiny round holes that a customer may notice first. If you take a small pinch of this frass and examine it under high magnification, you see that it is not composed of small fecal pellets, but is extremely fine powder. This will help to distinguish it from the frass of “false” powderpost beetles such as Anobiid beetles, whose frass has a gritty texture and is composed of tiny pellets.
If you have concerns and want a Free Home Inspection contact Lady Bug Pest Control Specialists for a Free Home Inspection for Termites, Eco-Friendly Pest Control, Home Seal Service, Bed Bug Eco-Heat, and Rodent Control. We perform Complete Home Inspections at no charge. Please feel free to contact Lady Bug Pest Control Specialists to answer any questions. 480-833-1111.
Wood Boring Beetles vs. Pantry Pest Beetles Mesa, AZ
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