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Thread: Powder Post Beetle Question

  1. #1

    Powder Post Beetle Question

    Hey folks, I am a newbie here. I have been a "lurker" for a while, but finally decided to join because I had a specific question about powder beetles and lumber.


    I have come across a fellow that is moving away, and selling around 1000 bd ft of hardwood of various species...oak, soft maple, hickory, walnut, and cherry. He had a bunch of logs milled about 10 years ago, and it has all been air drying since then...he has used some here and there for projects over the years.


    I haven't seen the stash in person yet, but I am planning on it this weekend. I have only seen some general pictures of it. After talking more about the wood with him, he wanted to send me some more pictures of it, and even offered to plane out some pieces and shoot me some more pictures.


    He started planing on the hickory, and after he got into it, he said he saw some evidence of powder beetles in the hickory. No other evidence of them in any other of the lumber, just the hickory. He doesn't want to sell me the hickory after finding that, nor would I want it.


    My question is: Should I be concerned about infestation in the rest of the wood species that were stored in the same shop...even though there is no visual evidence of them in the other species? I do not know much about them, so I didn't know if it was possible to have eggs or larvae inside of the wood without having visual signs of them on the outside of the boards. Any specific questions i need to ask him about what he found?...or anything I need to look at specifically if i go look at the lumber?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Pasadino, CA
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    824
    Those little suckers love the white part of hickory but stop short of the darker, denser part of that tree.
    I stored some hickory in my new garage twenty years ago and I still battle them even after I fumigated twice.
    Check closely for their telltale 1mm holes in any lumber stored close to hickory.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Crystal Lake, IL
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    70
    I would definitely be concerned about powder post beetles in all of the air-dried lumber that the guy has. It wouldn't completely stop me from buying, but I would probably find a way to run all of it through a kiln before moving it into my shop. I ended up building a small kiln in my back yard to treat some cherry that my great uncle had milled 30+ years ago on my great grandfather's farm. The lumber was definitely infested, but the family connection warranted the extra work in my opinion (that + my great uncle was heartbroken when he saw the bugs -- I had to salvage something for him). It was a ton of work to salvage that material, but the infestation was bad.

    Things to look for:

    1. Very fine saw dust in the lumber stacks. This is the easiest sign to see.
    2. The characteristic holes from the beetle larvae -- might be difficult to see
    3. Ask this gentleman to show you the hickory that he planed, just so you know what you might find. I suspect it's pretty bad based on his initial reaction -- the beetles holes don't always look that bad on the surface, but when you plane off the rough-sawn exterior the tracks will look like a maze.
    4. You should ask to plane a few boards from each stack to see what's under the rough.

    You'll have to judge for yourself whether or not it's worth dealing with this material, but I would not just buy and use without at least running the lumber through a heating cycle in the kiln.

    --Dan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    I wonder if bagging it airtight and filling with CO2 would kill them off. You would have to leave it under slight pressure for a week or more. Or go the other way and use vacuum.
    Bill

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    I wonder if bagging it airtight and filling with CO2 would kill them off. You would have to leave it under slight pressure for a week or more. Or go the other way and use vacuum.
    Bill
    The experts recommend heat to kill any bugs in the wood.

    Even planing boards from a stack might not prove anything. The beetles can enter and exit the end grain after spending a long time in the wood.

    Some species stick to green wood, some are not particular. Unfortunately, wood stored outside in sheds and barns for a long time is often full of beetle tracks. Some species of wood are more vulnerable. If possible, before buying examine the undisturbed stacks of lumber carefully for frass.

    (I have had the unusual "pleasure" of both witnessing a PPB exit the end of a walnut block AND watching PPBs fly across the yard, land and start boring into the end grain of freshly chain-sawn maple turning blanks - I couldn't believe it, some even started digging through a wet coat of Anchorseal! I got out the bug spray pronto.)

    JKJ

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    columbia, sc
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    552
    Not to hijack but just a couple dump questions about pp Beatles.

    1) is they are so pervasive what keeps them from infesting new wood in the shop? Let’s assume I don’t have any in the shop now. Do they fly around like carpenter bees.
    2) I’ve had some wood that was extremely infested and I have watched that wood over time for any future signs of infestation and haven’t seen any...do they eventually fully leave a piece of wood? The one piece I have has lots and lots of tracks in it but no sign of life.
    Bob C

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Dickinson, Texas
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    5,427
    IIRC, drying lumber in kiln will kill the beetles. If you get lumber that's not kiln dried, you may need to make a solar kiln.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=sola...hrome&ie=UTF-8

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cooper View Post
    Not to hijack but just a couple dump questions about pp Beatles.

    1) is they are so pervasive what keeps them from infesting new wood in the shop? Letís assume I donít have any in the shop now. Do they fly around like carpenter bees.
    2) Iíve had some wood that was extremely infested and I have watched that wood over time for any future signs of infestation and havenít seen any...do they eventually fully leave a piece of wood? The one piece I have has lots and lots of tracks in it but no sign of life.
    This is something good for every woodworker to know about! There is lots of discussion here if you search and much more available on the internet. The problem is separating the fact from the feelings, the sawdust from the frass. This may be a good place to start for an introduction, then search google for powder post beetles:

    http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsh...erpost-beetles

    You can search the Wood Web for info of interest to wood sawyers, processors and woodworkers. Anything written by Dr Gene Wengert is probably safe to believe.

    This is some of what I remember when researching this in the past: Unfortunately, no sign of live infestation does not guarantee the absence of beetles. Some species will infect new, green and even old, dry wood indoors under the right circumstances. The adults do emerge from infected wood, fly around, mate if they can, then lay eggs on wood that suits them. They are less likely to find a suitable mate indoors. There are chemicals you can apply to raw wood to kill larvae before they can burrow inside the wood. Heating wood to a certain temperature and holding it for a minimum time is guaranteed to kill all live insects inside. I don't remember the temperatures or times.

    JKJ

  9. #9
    Thanks for the info, folks. I will have to weigh my options. I'll ask around and see if I can find a kiln willing to let the wood soak for a while just to be safe. Or I might look into building some sort of sterilization chamber here at the house to see if I can get it hot enough. After a bit more research, I've read that the wood needs to get to an internal temp of 133 for at least 30 minutes, so the chamber will need to get to around 145.

  10. #10
    There is a lot of discussion on forestryforum.com about ppb. The wood doctor, Gene Wengert hangs out there.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    317
    They can infest lumber right out of the kiln, too. My sawyer treats everything with BoraCare as soon as it comes out.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    1,490
    I do not understand it but wood pallets have to be made from kiln dried wood to go into some countries. I know japan is one. This is so no insects or fungus make sit over. Sounds like a good idea to me but the pallet can be ten years old sitting in the rain and that is considered safe?
    Bill D

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