Wood borers you should know


The discovery of small, fresh, conical piles of sawdust in your home can provoke one of those ‘sick in the stomach’ feelings. Wood borers!

All borers will do some kind of damage to timber, but all is not lost – there are ‘good borers’ and ‘bad borers’. You need to be aware of the differences between the two groups, because ‘good borer’ damage will be cheap to repair, but it may be expensive to repair the damage done by ‘bad borers’.

The ‘good borers’ are beetles whose damage is limited to the first five years after the timber was milled. They attack mainly soft wood or moist decaying timber, and the damage done to the wood is superficial; it can be fixed by filling with putty and a quick repaint.

The ‘bad borers’ are beetles that can attack hardwood or softwood of any age. The damage is often structural, requiring complete replacement of the timbers, which are often floor boards or major support beams.


Ambrosia or Pinhole Borer Beetle
The Ambrosia or Pinhole Borer, Platypus australis, belongs to the Curculionidae family and has a biology that differs from most other wood borers. In other wood-boring beetles, it is the larvae (grubs) that bore through the wood and create the galleries. In the case of the Ambrosia Beetle, the adult female bores into the timber, creating a central tunnel with side branches. The larvae do not feed on the wood; they eat the fungus that grows on the moist timber gallery excavated by the adult female. The fungus causes a staining of the wood, which is characteristic of Ambrosia Beetle attack. Since the fungus the larva feeds on requires a moist environment, attack is confined to living or recently felled timber. Damage is only superficial.

The Ambrosia or Pinhole Borer Beetle, Platypus australis

The Ambrosia or Pinhole Borer Beetle, Platypus australis
Photographer: Kate Sparks, Source: Museum Victoria

Dampwood Borer
The Dampwood Borer, Hadrobregmus australiensis, belongs to the Anobiidae group of borers. It is a comparatively large beetle that attacks both softwoods and hardwoods, but only wood that is moist or decayed by wood-rotting fungi. As such, the wood affected by the borer is already damaged and therefore the borer is not considered to initiate damage. Typically in a household situation, damp-affected wood occurs in the subfloor parts of the building. Once the decayed wood has been removed and the reason for the damp condition is fixed, no further Dampwood Borer damage will occur.

The Dampwood Borer, Hadrobregmus australiensis

The Dampwood Borer, Hadrobregmus australiensis
Photographer: Kate Sparks, Source: Museum Victoria

Wood damage by Dampwood Borer

Wood damage by Dampwood Borer
Photographer: Kate Sparks, Source: Museum Victoria

Longicorn beetles
These are the cerambycid or longicorn beetles, so named because of their long antennae. Most species attack living trees. The boring is done by the larva (beetle grub), which may take 1–3 years to complete its development. Sometimes, the live tree that was originally attacked may have become part of a house or made into furniture, and the owner can get quite a surprise when a large beetle emerges. Damage is only superficial.

A longicorn beetle, Phoracantha sp.

A longicorn beetle, Phoracantha sp.
Photographer: Kate Sparks, Source: Museum Victoria

Powder Post Beetle
This lyctid borer attacks the sapwood of susceptible hardwoods, but not softwoods. The female lays her eggs in the exposed end-pores of freshly cut wood, or in a living tree that has been damaged. Borer attack is confined to about the first five years following felling of the logs, or when the timber moisture drops below 20%. The larvae feed along the grain of the wood and never attack the heartwood, so the damage is superficial.

Exit holes of the Powderpost Beetle

Exit holes of the Powderpost Beetle
Photographer: Kate Sparks, Source: Museum Victoria

Particoloured Auger Beetle
The auger beetles are bostrichid borers. They attack only recently felled logs and green timber, and only the sapwood of hardwood and softwood is susceptible to attack. The larvae feed along the grain of the wood, so the damage is superficial. The larvae (beetle grubs) produce a fine powdery frass (insect poo). The Particoloured Auger Beetle, Mesoxylion collaris, is the most frequently encountered species. It often bores its way out through the plasterboard during the first summer after a house has been constructed or renovated.

he Particoloured Auger Beetle, Mesoxylion collaris

The Particoloured Auger Beetle, Mesoxylion collaris
Photographer: Kate Sparks, Source: Museum Victoria


Wood-boring Weevil
This beetle, Pentaminus rhyncoliformis, belongs to the Curculionidae or weevil group of beetles. It attacks only softwoods, such as pine skirting boards. However, unlike the larvae of the ‘good borers’, which feed along the grain, the larvae of the Wood-boring Weevil meander throughout the wood, producing a honeycomb of tunnels that destroys the integrity of the timber.

The Wood-boring Weevil, Pentaminus rhyncoliformis

The Wood-boring Weevil, Pentaminus rhyncoliformis
Photographer: Kate Sparks, Source: Museum Victoria

‘Honeycomb’ damage cause by larvae of the Wood-boring Weevil

‘Honeycomb’ damage cause by larvae of the Wood-boring Weevil
Photographer: Kate Sparks, Source: Museum Victoria

Furniture Beetle
The beetle, Anobium punctatum, is an anobiid borer and can cause serious structural damage to timber. Attack occurs mainly in softwoods used in areas such as flooring, panelling and furniture. Unlike the ‘good borers’, this beetle can attack old dry wood. The female lays eggs in cracks and crevices or abraded areas in the timber, and the larval period may take several years. The reason it can cause serious damage is that the larvae feed in a meandering manner, producing a honeycomb of tunnels through the wood and destroying the structural integrity of the timber.

The Furniture Beetle, Anobium punctatum
Photographer: Kate Sparks, Source: Museum Victoria

‘Honeycomb’ damage caused by larvae of the Furniture Beetle

‘Honeycomb’ damage caused by larvae of the Furniture Beetle
Photographer: Kate Sparks, Source: Museum Victoria

Further Reading

Creffield, J. 1996. Wood-destroying Insects – Wood Borers and Termites. CSIRO: Melbourne.

Gerozsis, J. and Hadlington, P. 2001. Urban Pest Management in Australia. University of New South Wales Press: Sydney.

Comments (87)

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Matt Carter 21 April, 2009 17:00
I am a winemaker and have a problem with borers eating into my oak barrels, empty or full. I think I have captured one. What can I do to prevent this as the barrels are extremely expensive and worthless with a hole.
Discovery Centre 24 April, 2009 12:01
Hi Matt, Thank you for your comment regarding your oak barrels. In addition to the suggestion already made that the Museum can try to identify your specimen for you, it may be worth you contacting the Australian Wine Research Institute. This group is dedicated to providing information and assistance to the wine industry. The link below is to their website, best of luck with this. http://www.awri.com.au/
Andrew Cantle 1 April, 2010 12:20
Hi - in the last week I've had around 20 small beetle type creatures take over my kitchen. I think they might be living in the chip board that the kitchen side is made of. But they are difficult to pinpoint. I'm in Sydney. Are there a common beetle type that do this in the area? Happy to send photos in if that helps? Thanks Andrew
Discovery Centre 1 April, 2010 15:30

Hi Andrew, Museum Victoria offers a free identification service. To send an enquiry, click on the 'Ask the experts' link and then on 'Identifications' in the menu at left. Please provide us with images and, prior to sending us your enquiry, please read our identification guidelines.

Nate 22 April, 2010 17:01
I found what I am quite certain is a Wood-boring Weevil. I live in the Diamond Valley region of the outer northern Melbourne suburbs. I have a lot of fire wood around that is very rotten and also timber building materials. Should I tip the decaying firewood and not wait to burn it, and how worried should I be about the building timber and my weather board house for that matter?
Discovery Centre 25 April, 2010 14:31

Hi Nate, if you still have the borer it may be a good idea to get it to us and we can then try and identify it for you. Some borers attack only rotting timber, some will only cause cosmetic damage and some can cause structural damage. You can bring the beetle into the Discovery Centre daily between 10 and 4.30, or you can post it to Discovery Centre PO Box 666 Melbourne 3001. Please place the beetle in a small plastic container which won't get crushed in the post with your contact details.

Tim 30 July, 2010 02:10
Please give suggestion as to identity. I cannot send a pic at this time. This beetle is 2 inches long as pupae, 1 1/2"as adult, long antennae, is decimating cherry orchards in Lebanon. I think it is in the Bostichidae family
Discovery Centre 31 July, 2010 12:40

Hi Tim, there are many different species in the family Bostrichidae and without an image we could not attempt to say what species it may be. Museum Victoria does not have expertise on Bostrichid beetles from Lebanon. Is there a Natural History Museum you can contact in Lebanon who may have knowledge of the local fauna?

Monica 8 August, 2010 10:07
I recently bought four antique bentwood chairs. On the underside they have paper labels from Harnisch & Co and small metal plate labels with the name H. Morris Jones & Co, Chapel St Windsor . They are beautiful old chairs but I have just discovered that two of them appear to have been infested with borers. They have tiny holes and honeycomb-like damage. I did not see any of this damage when I first bought them but I haven't seen any other evidence, such as sawdust-like deposits under the chairs. I am worried that there is more extensive damage to come or that the other two chairs may become infested. Do you have advice on how best to tackle the problem with antique furniture?
Discovery Centre 12 August, 2010 14:46

Hi Monica, the most important thing is to determine whether the evidence of insects is old and nothing to be concerned about or a current infestation. Obviously if you can find any larvae or adult beetles in the furniture collect them and post them to Discovery Centre PO Box 666 Melbourne 3001 in a small plastic container which won't get crushed in the mail. The CSIRO have also produced a helpful website on wood borer infestation.

Monica 13 August, 2010 11:29
Thank you for that information. I have collected some of what I believe are the borers which have been flying around my apartment. They are very small so I have been unable to identify them. I will try and drop them in to the Museum as I work nearby.
Discovery Centre 13 August, 2010 12:14

Hi Monica, the Discovery Centre is located on the lower ground level of the Melbourne Museum at the Rathdowne Steet end of the building. We are open daily between 10 am and 4.30 pm. Look forward to receiving your specimens.

Mary 18 August, 2010 13:32
Hi, My house has no cavity in the ceilings as its all timber open beams. As of the last few months I have been finding piles of wood grains on my furniture. There is little hole in various sections and i dont know if i should putty or not as i have no cavity to get a look. How can you identify them if i havent got the insect themselves to show you?
Discovery Centre 24 August, 2010 15:17

Hi Mary, you could try putting sticky tape over the holes and see if you manage to collect any beetles that maybe emerging that you can then send to us for identification. The other thing you can do is if you can tell us the type of wood you have, if you are aware of any damp issues with the wood, the size of the holes, i.e. 1-2 mm in diameter, 3-4 mm etc and whether they are round or oval in size we may be able to make some suggestions. If you are able to take some good quality photos you could also send those to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au

Jane 1 September, 2010 23:37
Hello, I recently bought a buffet hutch from Ebay... has a lot of holes (roughly between 50 and 100) with black stain around the holes. The holes vary in size but would roughly fit the plastic part of a ball point pen point in them. I treated the hole piece with Rentokil Borer Insecticide by injecting the holes and rubbing over the whole piece roughly. The next morning I found a dead insect on the floor nearby. It looks reddish dark brown and is about 8mm long. I can send photos if necessary. I spoke with a pest control expert as I am extremely worried about this, and he has said that this borer will only affect the piece of furniture concerned and only bores out of the timber once it is an adult and does not do any more damage at that point. If you could give me any further advice it would be greatly appreciated.
Discovery Centre 3 September, 2010 17:01
Hi Jane, we can certainly identify the insects for you. Simply click on the 'Ask the Experts' link at left, then on 'Identifications'. You'll find a form, as well as identification guidelines, with which you can send us your exact query as well as images.
Kate 4 September, 2013 20:00
Jane, Did the Bora insecticide work? I have them in built in cupboards and have just had my floor boards done when I found them. My floor sander said to avoid removing the cupboards as it will destroy the floor. I am now worried sick that they will spread to my floor boards and skirting boards. My pest controller said they were annoboid bora and they have infested a built in cupboard. A carpenter had told me the cupboards were blackwood but the pest controller was not confident they were. Do the insecticides work and how often do you have to apply them for annaboid bora
Gay Hawkes 17 October, 2010 21:17
Intense infestation of borers in green dogwood I used for frame of a small dwelling.There is much fine dust from holes and these are from 4-7 mm diameter.Nothing seems to work as eradication.
Paul and Thomas Kruger 9 January, 2011 11:09
Hello Discovery Centre Team, We have just caught a Longicorn beetle (adult, Coptocercus rubripes we think) and were wondering if you could advise us as to what to feed the beetle please ? We assume that the adult will still eat wood but which kind would be best ? Thank you
Discovery Centre 12 January, 2011 15:08
Hi Paul & Thomas, adult beetles from the family Cerambycidae feed on a variety of substances depending on the species concerned. Many feed on pollen, while others feed on bark or foliage and some can be attracted to sugar baits. You may want to try giving your beetle a mix of flowers, foliage and bark and see if you can find what takes his or her fancy. If it doesn't seem to be feeding it may be good to release it and allow it to find its preferred food source.  
CYNDI REED 30 January, 2011 12:22
Hello, I was dusting my old 1930'radio and a piece of the paint rubbed off to reveal hundreds of teeny tiny orangish eggs?..tiny round things. I grabbed my vacuum and sucked them out, and found another small round hole and took a tooth pick and pressed on it,..more of the lil round things spill oot. I filled the holes with bug killer after vacuuming them out and sprayed all around the floor. Do you know what this is? There are plenty of pictures of the bugs, but not of the eggs. Any help is much appreciated. I'm panicked as I just purchased a 1930's bankers desk!! help! thanks cyndi
Discovery Centre 15 February, 2011 08:42
Hi Cyndi, it would be really helpful if we could see some of the eggs, so we could put them under the microscope and try to get some idea of what they may be. If you can collect any please feel free to bring them into Discovery Centre on the lower ground level of Melbourne Museum, open daily between 10 and 4.30. This website from the CSIRO will provide you with some good tips for monitoring the presence of wood borers.  
Gulshan 13 February, 2011 03:25
Hi, About October last year (when winter was abt to start) I saw small black insects that resided at all the corners of my house. After a month I started seeing a lot of powder coming out of my shoe rack and had small holes. I chemically treated that and now for 2 / 3 months there is no powder from that. But in past 1 week I saw powder coming of my dining table where a hole of 4 mm was done. There is also powder coming from leg of sofa hole is pin size. Also there is powder coming from wardrobe door where a pin hole is there. Is it possible that wood borer attack spreads from one furniture to another or the beetle(s) has attacked a lot of my furniture. The problem has been visible only since1 week. How can my furniture be protected, also can i protect uninfected furniture. All my furnitures are veneer finished with varnish and malamine spray and interiors are laminated.
Discovery Centre 17 February, 2011 18:25
Hi Gulshan, it sounds like you are contacting us from the northern hemisphere. It may be best to contact your closest natural history museum to see if they can offer any advice as you may have different borer species to those from our information sheet which is aimed at Australian situations. Best of Luck.
Robyn 20 March, 2011 00:19
I live in Toowoomba in Queensland in a temperate damp climate. I purchased a second hand double bed wooden bed in late January and have today noticed it's riddled with borer damage. Additionally the tongue and groove (possibly pine) walls in my house (built 1930's) where the bed base was stored have some small holes which maybe be borer exit holes and there is a small piece of what appears to be pine attached to hardwood stumps immediately underneath the room (under the house) where the bed base was stored appears to be seriously borer affected. Is it likely the borers were brought into the house via the bed base or is it likely they were here already and completely devoured the bed base in a few weeks?
tim 6 September, 2011 18:19
hi there, we recently bought a house in donavons s.a. the pine floor is badly damaged by the furniture beetle. when pulled up it is very powdery and honeycombed. it does not appear to have gotten into the hard frame at all. i am thinking about just putting mdf sheeting straight over the top. do they eat mdf?
Discovery Centre 13 September, 2011 14:12
Hi Tim, we do not believe that furniture beetle will attack MDF.
Tilo Junge 27 September, 2011 20:18
Hello I am a collector of traditional money items. In my collection I have many items made from natural materials. I appear to have a Bird of Paridise plume that is being eaten by something. Is there product I can spray into or around the cabinet, or can place flakes of Napthalene in the draws? Can you suggest anything, should I try and find the critter/eggs? Thanks Tilo
Josie 24 May, 2012 14:19
Hi; I suspect I have borer in my piano (have noticed some flight holes). When the mature insects fly off out of their flight holes how far can they travel? Could they spread to other furniture in the same room? Or in the same house?
Discovery Centre 24 May, 2012 16:22
Hi Josie, There are many different species of wood-boring beetles. In order to answer your questions, we would need to know which species of beetle inhabits your piano. Museum Victoria has a free Identification Service. If you manage to locate a specimen, you can either post it to us or drop it off at the Melbourne Museum Discovery Centre. We can then identify it and answer any questions you may have about its biology and behaviour.
Ron Vangorph 22 June, 2012 16:28
Hi A couple of years ago I contacted Ken Walker re Pentaminus rhyncoliformis. He informed me the name had changed to Pentaminus Australis. Not sure if you are aware. http://www.padil.gov.au/viewPestDiagnosticImages.aspx?id=2315 Regards Ron
Chris 22 October, 2012 22:25
Our home has pine floorboards dating from 1920s and 30s. They have some areas in which possible borer damage has been filled. We have lived here 3 years and have noticed in the last few months that the gloss finish and whatever wood-filler/putty which was between the floorboards and in patched areas is disappearing leaving dark gaps between boards and cracks. Are there any wood damaging insects which are likely to eat the corking/filler? We can't access the underside of the floorboards (first floor with no accessible cavity). Many thanks for any ideas you may have. We live in Sydney.
Discovery Centre 29 October, 2012 10:25
Hi Chris, we are not aware of any borers or beetles that would consume putty/wood fillers. It may be that general wear and tear has led to the filler drying or cracking and maybe falling out of the gaps; it's very hard to say without seeing it.  
Alberto Montesano 24 November, 2012 20:55
A nice old cherry wood table that has sustained damage by wood borer, the usual 1 to 2 mm holes, after been in a commercial freezer airtight wrap for 10 days at -20 C I would like to fill in the holes and restore the table, however after substantial search I can not find any information on the best process to fill in the small holes. Any information and advice will be very helpful. Thanks,
Discovery Centre 26 November, 2012 13:39
Hi Alberto, consider contacting the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials for some conservation advice.
kevin bamford 16 February, 2013 22:09
Hi guy's i own a pre-fab railway house (sent out from england 50/60's)i have only now found what i think are borers in baltic pine flooring and hardwood joists would it be any use treating the house now ore would the damage be done thank you Kevin (i have only checked one room because a board started to give way)
Wroger 18 February, 2013 22:00
Hi I have just noticed that there many holes bored into the brick wall along the side of our house. I asked the builder what caused these, and he said it was the Masonry Bolt "beetle". I would not like to see our beautiful brick wall eaten out by them, what treatments can I apply to the bricks to stop the infestation?
Discovery Centre 23 February, 2013 13:56
Hi Wroger, I have not heard of the masonry bolt beetle, I have heard of masonry or mortar bees if that is what the person meant? These bees usually burrow into banks of hard soil or sand but where mortar or cement is starting to get weak or is of poor quality the bees can burrow in. The Museum is not involved in pest control but I imagine if you tried to use insecticides you would need to reapply this continually if the bees are attracted to crumbling mortar. If they are presenting a large problem you might want to have the mortar repaired to prevent their access.  
Jenny 17 September, 2013 11:34
Hello, I noticed brown marks on the cornice in one of my rooms and also mud tracks on an outside wall. Immediately I contacted a pest control company and they came out that day (approx a month ago). Good news was that I didn't have termites (the tracks were european wasp related and removed/treated). They couldn't say what was causing the marks but on close inspection showed me they are holes. The roof cavity was dusted and I thought the problem was solved. Just this week, new holes/marks are appearing and are not only confined to the cornice. I have never seen any insects and are wondering if you are aware of what could be eating my plaster? Hoping you can help.
David 4 October, 2013 23:33
Hi there my house is now 11 years old, I have Sydney blue gum flooring. I have pin holes all over my flooring I have had it checked out twice once 11 years ago and again two years ago and keep being told there was no moisture in the floor and they were no longer active . Though over the years the holes keep increasing . I was originally told the holes were there before the floors got laid and polished, though I have holes through some of the joints doesn't make sense. This has been doing my head in for the past 11 years is there any body you recommend who can come out and give me another opinion, I live in bundoora Victoria thanks
Discovery Centre 7 October, 2013 11:19
Hi David, ideally if you could get a specimen of what is emerging from the holes you should be able to make some more informed plans on how to deal with them. If there is a particular section of floor boards where you believe new holes are forming place some tape over this area and see if you can catch some of the adult beetles on the tape as they emerge. If you can get some beetles we have an identification service. The CSIRO website also has some tips that might assist on monitoring for termites and borers and also some advice on treatment. 
Chris 9 January, 2014 14:17
I have two big Plywood pieces at my place, recently I am seeing lot of cream color saw dust falling from small pin hole size holes of the plywood.After removing some upper part of the plywood, I observed that the plywood was full with saw dust. Unlike other borers who push the saw dust away from the plywood, this borer is not doing the same. The plywood is packed with sawdust, the ply now looks like "a box filled with sawdust". Can tell me what kind of wood borer is this.
Discovery Centre 14 January, 2014 11:50
Hi Chris, if you can have a good look in the plywood and the dust that is accumulating and see if you can collect a specimen of what is causing the damage that would be great. Have a look at the CSIRO website which has some general advice on wood borer detection. If you are sure that it is a current and active infestation see if you can find any small beetles which may be present in the timber. If you can collect some feel free to put them in a small container like a pill jar and mail them to Discovery Centre PO Box 666, Melbourne 3001.  
Michelle Walker 2 August, 2014 16:47
Hi My daughter bought an old wooden picture frame which had borer holes in it. I thought it was in active but not sure now as small hole have appeared in some marante wood architraving on floor behind which the frame was leant against. I had soaked the frame with eucalyptus oil before placing it against the floor. Is it possible to have borers attack the wood within 2 weeks? I also found one dead beetle on the carpet behind the frame.
Discovery Centre 4 August, 2014 12:57
Hi Michelle, the best thing is for us to have a look at the beetle and tell you whether it is a borer or not. If you can place it in a container which won't get crushed like a pill jar and send it to Discovery Centre PO Box 666, Melbourne 3001. Just put a note inside with your contact details and that it is for enquiry number 35260.
andrea simpson 10 August, 2014 12:25
hi im wondering if you can help ive been to plant nurseries, tree specialists but no one can seem to help me, i have 150mt of bottlebrush shrubs that are getting attacked and dying from some sort of borer. they are small white/clear around 3mm in length i have a photo but cant seem to attach to the comment section. any help would be appreciated as im at my wits end .
Discovery Centre 12 August, 2014 13:12

Hi Andrea

You are welcome to see if our experts can identify the borers via our Ask the Experts page; yon this page you can upload a photograph, but it would need to be a clear image of the animal itself rather than of the damage to the tree. We may be able to identify the animal responsible, but we don't provide control advice, so we may only be able to partly help...but we are happy to try!

sandra 3 November, 2014 13:23
I have been attacked by small black twig looking beetles that barrow into my timber slab breakfast bar they leave little mounds every morning and every now and then I find them dead on the surface of the timber, I have captured a few in a jar but no one knows what they are, I need help to get rid of them any help appreciated
Discovery Centre 3 November, 2014 16:14
Hi Sandra, the best thing to do is place some of the beetles in a container like a pill jar and mail them to Discovery Centre, PO Box 666, Melbourne 3001. We can then identify them and provide you with as much information as we can. Just enclose a note with your contact details and write down for us the problems they are causing and where they are being found.
Carole 4 March, 2015 17:03
Hi, we have been given a dark stained side board made of pine I think,that someone has put soft pine shelves in. At first I thought it was dust and wiped it over. Now I find tiny piles of what looks like fine sawdust on several of the surfaces, like the edges of the draws and on the floor directly below the unit. I can't see or feel any holes...any ideas. We live in WA Cheers
Discovery Centre 7 March, 2015 11:33
Hi Carole, there is a helpful link from the CSIRO on what to look for, if you search for CSIRO and borers together you'll find their page. If you can find any examples of anything you think may be causing damage I'm sure the museum in Perth, (being much closer to you than us) will be happy to undertake an identification for you.
Val Cossar 11 April, 2015 23:00
We have just bought a new caravan and to our disappointment discovered there are borers in the van. Taken it back to dealer, tell us they will look after us but suggesting they will replace damaged timber, but we are not happy with that. We think it is a Lyctus Borer .2mm holes and flour like dust. 4 holes so far, is it likely they could be in more wood in van, do they spread easily. Love to hear your comment.
Discovery Centre 13 April, 2015 15:19
Hi Val, species of Lyctus borer attack the sapwood of susceptible hardwoods, (as noted above), as long as there is sufficient starch for the larvae to develop. Generally any damage is superficial only and doesn't affect the structural integrity of the timber, as long as any wood used is not all sapwood. So it will depend on the species of tree used to provide the wood, whether sapwood or heartwood has been used, (and what percentages), how much starch is present in any sapwood and the age of the timber as most attack occurs in the early years of service life of timber.   
Riana Henning 31 August, 2015 15:18
Hi Val, I would like to confirm whether you have also bought a Jurgens Caravan. We could be having the same problem. I have attended the first hearing at the Tribunal last week and we need to prove that there are borers in the caravan. Please let me know. Riana
Andi Morton 27 April, 2015 17:22
I was about to bring an antique desk into my house that I had collected from Sunbury. I noticed tiny (less than 1mm) holes all over it and there is some sawdusty looking stuff under the drawers. I don't know how long they have been there or what caused them. I have a solid brick house with pine floors. The desk has never been inside, but I'm worried these borers will get into my house. What are the chances?
Discovery Centre 1 May, 2015 17:58
Hi Andi, sometimes dust from long gone infestations can continue to fall out of old emergence holes if the piece is being moved. If you have somewhere to store it before you bring it into the house you can mark existing exit holes on the timber with a pencil. If you get new unmarked emergence holes then you know you have active insects in the timber. You'd then need to have them identified to find out if they pose any risk to other timber or not. If you do get an emergence of any insects you are welcome to put them in a container that won't get crushed in the post and send it to Discovery Centre PO Box 666, Melbourne 3001 and we can try and tell you what they are. 
arthur stephens 14 May, 2015 15:04
hi. i have recently had a new floor laid out of spotted gum. i noticed that some of the boards have borer trails/tracks. several boards have extensive damage. should i be concerned?
Discovery Centre 22 May, 2015 18:22
Hi Arthur, is there any evidence that it is a current infestation such as are there larvae in the timber or there is an emergence from the timber of adult beetles? It may be an effect of old damage that is not going to get any worse if there is nothing currently living in the timber. Maybe select a section of timber where there is a lot of markings and take a photo or mark the timber with some thing non-damaging that shows current holes/marks. If you inspect the timber again and you have additional holes or marks then that would indicate something is alive and emerging. If that is the case try and get a specimen; as you have probably seen on this sheet there are degrees of concern depending on the species involved. If you can get a specimen you are welcome to send it into us. Just place it in a container that won't get crushed in the post like an empty pill bottle and send it to Discovery Centre PO Box 666, Melbourne 3001.  
Michael O'Halloran 16 May, 2015 18:38
What are the treatments for wood borer. I recently purchased an item of furniture with evidence of borer holes. Can I treat it without destroying the furniture
Helen Metzger 30 May, 2015 22:50
Hello MuseumVic! I have an old wardrobe which we have had in our house for about 4 years, and only in the last year or so (and we've been in this house three years) I noticed dust under the wardrobe which I've realised has come from borers. I'm having trouble identifying the borers (haven't found any live ones) and thus I'm having trouble working out how (or if it's worth) treating the wardrobe. If I send a picture is it possible for someone to identify which kind of borer it may be by the exit holes? They seem to only have eaten the base board, and one board of a support base of the wardrobe. Thanks, Helen
Discovery Centre 1 June, 2015 15:33
Hi Helen, please see some of the suggestions made to Andi on the 1st of May and also to Arthur on the 22nd of May to determine if what you have is an active infestation. If you believe it is active try putting some tape over the area where the new holes are appearing to see if you can collect any of the beetles on the tape. If you can't get a specimen you can take an image of the dresser and send it to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au Just let us know what the dresser is made of and also if you can measure the holes for us and let us know that in the email. If you do manage to collect any of the adult beetles just put them in something that won't get crushed in the post like an empty pill bottle and send it to Discovery Centre PO Box 666, Melbourne 3001.  
Irene 19 August, 2015 21:17
Hello, we have just moved house and upon moving a cabinet that was purchased 3 years ago have noticed about 6 piles of fine powder. Not realising what is was we moved the furniture to our new home, on hardwood floors. The holes are really small, 1-2mm wide and are only around the base of the cabinet, the back of the cabinet and one side of the cabonet. The cabinet is made from recycled boat wood so i cannot give you the type of wood. My concern is how quickly, if at all, do i need to get rid of this cabinet? will they move onto the hard wood floor the cabinet is on? If there were really bad would they not have eaten completely through the cabinet in 3 years? I just dont know what angle to take with this now. Whether i get rid of it immediately or if it is just superficial damage but won't harm anything else. If you can please just tell me whether i should get rid of it or not that would be helpful. Thanks.
Discovery Centre 22 August, 2015 13:02
Hi Irene, the sawdust could be as a result of an old infestation and the moving of the piece has caused the material to move. See replies to Andi on the 1st of May and Arthur on the 22nd of May.
Con 6 September, 2015 08:00
I live in Brunswick in a solid brick house with an old timber floor under the carpet. I know that the bedroom on the south-east side has borers, but the rooms on the north and west don't seem to be infected. Will it spread and are my picture frames safe up on a brick wall?
Discovery Centre 6 September, 2015 11:15
Hi Con - it would depend greatly on the type of borer you have; we would need to see a specimen in order to determine the species, which in turn would determine possible behavior patterns. If you can get a specimen of the borer (not just their damage, but the actual animal), you can either send us a clear image to be identified via our Ask the Experts page, or preferably you can bring a specimen to us for identification, Once identified, you can then consult with a professional to manage the pests if need be. Note that we provide identifications here at the Museum, but we can't provide pest control advice.
Melanie Robertson 8 November, 2015 11:12
We have an antique dresser made out of some sort of pine. Recently I pulled out two draw an noticed lots dust and tiny holes in the draws. I had placed pine cones one of the draws well over 6 months ago. My husband found a bug but unfortunately threw it away. The affected draws are in plastic bags outside and after weeks it still lots of dust and holes are emerging. Is there anyway of working out that it is to treat it with out a specimen? Your advise is greatly appreciated!!
Laura 22 December, 2015 13:41
I recently purchased an older home in Denver, Colorado. There is carpeting on the second floor only. Half of the second floor is the original converted attic space and the other half is a newer addition. When vacuuming the carpeting on both old and new sides of the upstairs I notice a significant amount of saw dust in and around the vacuum canister. Some is even visible around floor boards. I don't see any of this residue when vacuuming the hardwood floor on the first floor. Could this be caused by a borer? I've been told Denver doesn't have termites, but do we have borers? We haven't pulled any carpet up yet, but that's my next step :( I've not seen any other evidence of bug activity..
Discovery Centre 24 December, 2015 11:13
Hi Laura, probably the best thing to do is contact the Museum of Natural History in Boulder, Colorado. They will have a much greater level of knowledge than us on what species of borer may be present in your area.
sue rose 27 January, 2016 15:17
Can you suggest any interesting looking longicorn beetles that would typically be found on old dead eucalyptus wood in southern NSW or northern Victoria. We are making an interpretive sign for our environment centre on the value of woody debris and our artist needs an image to draw.Thanking you.
Discovery Centre 28 January, 2016 13:07
Hi Sue, there are a number of Cerambycid beetle species found in southern New South Wales and northern Victoria. One example would be Phoracantha semipunctatus. This species is found widely across Victoria and southern and coastal NSW. Being such a common species there are also plenty of images of this online. Note it often seems to be misspelt as Phoracantha semipunctata.



Philip Rowlands 29 March, 2016 16:00
Hello! I have a large stack of milled blackwood stored in my shed for furniture building. I have not seen any borers, but I do have holes in the sapwood (only) suggestive of the Powder Post Beetle. The blackwood has all been air-dried over more than twenty years. Am I most likely correct in presuming that my dry blackwood (heartwood) is unlikely to be in any danger of attack from this borer? It appears that there may not be any common borer that actually attacks the heartwood of well dried blackwood, and that is clearly my experience. I am even doubtful that the current evidence of borer is suggestive of active borer (no powder dust to suggest it).
Discovery Centre 1 April, 2016 12:40
Hi Philip, according to the Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website, ' Powderpost (and all lyctine) beetles attack only the sapwood of certain hardwoods and do not attack softwoods. Susceptible timbers must contain enough starch to nourish the developing larvae. The heartwood is never infested, although adults may emerge through it.' 
sharon tiurner 7 April, 2016 14:55
My mock orange is dying and at the bottom of the tree I have found some white power can you plaese tell me what to use .
Discovery Centre 11 April, 2016 16:49
Hi Sharon, it is very hard to say what this might be from just a description. It may be powdery mildew; if you search online for this by image and see if it matches what you have. If you think this is what you have your local garden centre or nursery should be able to recommend a treatment for you.
adam warburton 10 April, 2016 14:28
Hi, I have a stack of New Guinea Rosewood. Recently I have noticed piles of very fine sawdust at the bottom of the stack, and a series of pin holes in the timber. There are literally hundreds of pinholes, however The pin holes are confined to the sapwood, and are not present in the heartwood. This leads me to think that they are lyctid borer. Everything I have read on Lyctid borer says it is not worth treating, but I would like to get it treated to save the sapwood for furniture use. Is there any treatment you know of, or do you know where I might gain assistance?
Discovery Centre 16 April, 2016 13:22

Hi Adam, if you can collect any beetles from the timber we are happy to have a look at them and try and confirm the identity for you.

At the museum we use freezing almost exclusively, but we have the advantage of a walk in minus 20 degrees freezer. Depending on the size of the object you could try freezing it. Another option would be to heat treat the wood by placing the object in black plastic and placing it in the sun (obviously this works best in summer). 

The Department of Agriculture site 'Approved treatments for timber and wooden related products' is a good resource. This also has links to people who can undertake treatment, although this may be more in the context of people undertaking industrial scale treatment.    


John 12 June, 2016 08:20
Hi, I live in gippsland and have found an active furniture beetle infestation in my pine floorboards. To establish what the best treatment is it would be very helpful if you advise how quickly this beetle spreads? And is there any risk it will to the hardwood joists?
Discovery Centre 17 June, 2016 14:13
Hi John, according to Urban Pest Management in Australia by John Gerozisis and Phillip Hadlington, (UNSW Press, 2006), attack is usually encountered in pine timbers....it will also attack hardwoods such as English Oak, and infestations have been recorded from spotted gum, (Eucalyptus maculata), but the cases are very rare. Many species are resistant (eg white Cypress pine and many hardwoods).The egg-to-adult period may be as short as 12 months, but it is usually 2-3 years.  
wendy 2 August, 2016 23:14
my bath tub is under a wooden window and I'm always finding black pepper like specks in it...under the window frame I can see some small holes but I have not seen any actual insects. What could it be ?
Discovery Centre 2 January, 2017 11:34
Hi Wendy, apologies we missed your question. Our response would be similar to the one to Karen Anne just below you on the 8th of September. If you can collect something great as unfortunately there is not a lot we can say from a description alone. 
Karen Anne 8 September, 2016 15:35
Hi guys, I have some dust piling up under some holes, beside a new imported unit and suspect it is borers. I have put some tape over the holes, noting from your other comments and was planning on popping that in a zip lock bag and express posting that to you for identification and advice. Does that sound the best thing to do, kind regards, Karen Anne
Discovery Centre 12 September, 2016 09:51
Hi Karen Anne, we are happy to attempt an identification for you. Do you mean you just have the powder or that you have managed to collect an emerging beetle? If it is only the dust from the holes we are probably not going to be able to say much. Feel free to send the specimen to Discovery Centre PO Box 666, Melbourne 3001. If you can place them in something that won't be crushed in the post like an empty pill bottle that would be great.   
Leah Hall 15 November, 2016 22:41
Are wood borers the only creature that will make holes in wooden furniture?
Discovery Centre 17 December, 2016 13:32
Hi Leah, sorry for the delayed reply. Borers are one of the obvious causes of holes in timber. There are however other species of insect who may not have fed on timber as larvae but may bore into it solely for the purpose of pupation.  
Alana O'Connor 20 November, 2016 19:41
Hi there i recently moved into a private rental just under 3 mnths ago and have had these small black bugs constantly chewing away at my bedroom door everyday i wake up to more and more holes in the cupboard door and saw dust all over the floor Im not sure which of these they r but they r one of these types could someone plz help me with more info as i have a son who is asthmatic and need to know if they will effect him or not Also it is only in the 1 room that we r aware of at the moment Thanks
Discovery Centre 21 November, 2016 12:20
Hi Alana, 

Unfortunately we're not able to identify insects from verbal descriptions. If you're able to get a few images of them, it might help - although that might be difficult given how small they are.

If you're able to collect some of the insects and protect them in, say, sticky tape, you can post them in to us here in the Discovery Centre:

GPO BOX  666
Jerome Deakin 3 June, 2017 13:00
I just want to retail a fix for borers in old furniture that was suggested by a staff member of Museum Victoria back in early 1997 (in the old Public Library building just before the move). He gave me the following advice and refused to accept any responsibility for the result. Place the article (it was a box, about 450mmx250mmx450mm) in double black plastic garbage bags and place it in direct sunlight on a few successive really hot days, leaving it for extended hours on each day. I did this on two successive 40 degree, very dry, north wind days in a Melbourne suburban back yard and the result was a complete success. Since that time - more than 40 years ago - the borer activity has never resumed. This was a very unscientific way to tackle the problem. we didn't even identify the insect. But it worked in our case.
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