▷ Top Natural Remedies for Getting Rid of Powderpost Beetles

Top Natural Remedies for Removing Powderpost Beetles

By Sabrina Wilson / February 6, 2017

Most beetles are bad enough, but when they’re destroying your home, it’s a whole different ballgame. If your house is infested with powderpost beetles, it’s only a matter of time until they turn your wooden posts (and shutters, and walls, and floors) to powder. Using natural remedies to get rid of powderpost beetles, though, can keep your sanity — and your home — intact.

How to Tell if You Have Powderpost Beetles

While termites take first place in their home-destroying abilities, powderpost beetles come in a close second. They are found around the United States and are part of a large family. True powderpost beetles are in the lyctidae family, but the false ones, bostrichidae, can be just as damaging.

These pests tend to favor certain types of wood: hardwood with large pores, tropical wood, and new wood, especially in new homes or recently manufactured items.

  • Ash
  • Hickory
  • Oak
  • Walnut
  • Pines
  • Other sapwood and other softwood

The damage occurs when the beetle is in the larval stage, which can take anywhere from a month-and-a-half to 12 years, with the beetle bulking up by eating your boards. Prime locations for their meals are made in your hardwood floors, interior trim, joists, plates, sills, and sub-flooring. They can also branch into furniture, handles, or ladders, and have been found to compromise the structural strength of their abode.

Look for tiny holes — about the size of a piece of pencil lead. If you see a very fine powder when you jostle or shake the wood, you more than likely have an unwanted houseguest. The adults will leave through the holes, all of which are connected to tunnels created by the larvae. Make regular, yearly inspections of your property.

Our Top Recommendation 

Almost regardless of which insect is infesting your home or yard, our top recommended solution is the same. Cedar oil is a safe, non-toxic and all natural solution for killing and repelling most insects.

Cedar oil does not harm beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, but it is a contact killer and effective repellent for most insects you’d want to get rid of. See this article to learn more about cedar oil or to see the full range of cedar oil products, click here.

Natural Remedies for Powderpost Beetles

Start on the right foot

Responsible management and prevention of powderpost beetles should start at the mill, but since the pests can be picked up along the way, it’s important to inspect wood products before bringing them home. Check your furniture before you take it in the house and fumigate it if it’s showing any signs of infestation. Inspect your firewood as well, and only bring the amount of wood into the house that you need for that day.

Give them the cold shoulder

If your small objects are infested with powderpost beetles, placing the item in the cold is one of the most effective ways to get rid of the pests. Remove it from the warmth and place it in a location that is colder than ten degrees Fahrenheit for three days. To ensure the treatment has been effective, remove the object after three days and put it back in a warm location for at least 48 hours, and then repeat. The drastic temperature change, not the cold, is what will kill beetles and keep them from doing any more damage.

Kill them with a kiln

Follow the proper protocol to kiln-dry your object. This works for small items and large pieces, like barn boards or beams. The consistent heat is enough to kill the powderpost beetle but still isn’t enough to keep them out. Once the piece is dry, especially if it was made from a type of wood that typically doesn’t have much moisture, take the proper steps to seal or paint the wood.

Take away their options

Powderpost beetles love old, dry wood. The closer they are to your house, the greater the chance of them spreading to your home. Take the time to clear your property and nearby areas of dead branches, tree limbs, and wood scraps, where they are more likely to live.

Give them some air

Lower the amount of moisture in the wood. Powderpost beetles can’t survive in wood where the moisture level is less than 13 percent to 20 percent; so if the infested wood is in a crawl space, consider installing a moisture barrier or increasing the ventilation.

Sprinkle some salt

Borate salt is a common treatment for powderpost beetles. It doesn’t kill the beetles living in the wood, and isn’t very efficient at penetrating deep, dry, or thick wood but, when sprinkled on thin wood, you may see a difference.

Replace the wood

If it’s a small area, like molding or paneling, you might find it easiest to just pull off the infested pieces and replace them.

Use essential oils

One 1993 study found that basil, eucalyptus, and tarragon oils killed powderpost beetles within three days (buy it here). Other oils were less effective. Lavender (buy it here) allowed them to live as long as the untreated control group, and in peppermint (buy it here) they actually lived longer than the control group. 

The gold standard for killing pests is cedar oil, which is highly effective for killing and repelling many types of insects, including powderpost beetles. 

Where to Buy Cedar Oil

For a full range of cedar oil products for use on yards, pets, livestock, humans and more, visit Cedarcide.

Finish them off with finish

Unfinished wood attracts powderpost beetles. To keep them away, consider using paint, shellac, or varnish to keep female beetles from laying their eggs on the surface of the item.


I hope you haven’t found the tell-tale powder of these wood-destroying beetles, but if you have, let me know in the comments below what has worked to help treat your wood, and if you liked the list, feel free to share with someone who might need these tricks.

About the author

Sabrina Wilson

Sabrina Wilson is an author and homemaker who is passionate about a holistic approach to health. When she is not writing she can be found tooling around in her garden with the help of her appropriately named dog Digby, bicycling in the park, and occasionally rock climbing…badly. Sabrina is a staff writer for the Organic Daily Post.

Joseph Danyluk - April 9, 2017

I found the powder in the wood block of newly purchased knives. I thought the powder was leftovers from manufacturing. At night we heard an odd sound coming from it but assumed that it was the refrigerator. Until about 1 month after bringing it into the house my wife actually saw it poke its head out. How do I make sure the get rid of this thing? Should I be concerned that the house is infested now? I’m returning the knife set to make sure but want to ensure none of them left the wood block into permanent residence in my new home.

    lara nelson - August 31, 2017

    We bought a bench from a local retailer and we had an outbreak, that has been over a year ago and we are still dealing with this. I immediately removed the host (bench after6 months and when the larvie hatched and they began crawling round the whole house…. being in our brand new home and here we are still trying to kills these things. I sent specimens to our local Extension agent for review and it came back a powerpost beetle from wood in Michigan. I would start there to see what our dealing with.

Ivy - January 26, 2018

Send me email all information about where can I buy cedar oil.

Lori - April 3, 2018

I have red oak wood floors milled in Michigan in my Reno NV home. Three years after installation I am finding evidence of powderpost beetles in 2 rooms and stairs. Of course, company is denying it could be their fault.
I am 2 years post chemo treatment and have worked hard at detoxing my body and house. The thought of fumigation or chemicals to rid the beetles scares me. Can the cedar oil be used in large areas? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Sabrina Wilson - April 3, 2018

    Yes, there are foggers for the cedar oil too and it’s used by pest control companies as a non-toxic solution. You can use it on large areas.

Chicago - April 29, 2018

I just recently found a wood shelf with powderpost beetle damage. We’ve had it for about 6 months and took it off the wall for a couple weeks and came back to the powder and dead bugs in the piles. Is there a concern that they may have hatched and gotten into other wood in our home?! Concerned that they can spread throughout the house, does anyone know how much of a possibility this is?

Kayla - August 14, 2018

Would Cedarwood oil be as effective as cedar oil? I sell essential oils and we have Cedarwood oil wondering if it would work also. And would you just mix the Cedarwood oil and water in a spray bottle and spray down the wood? We are having problems in a shed at our cabin where the bugs are attacking the shelving. We have replaced the shelving and now I want to spray it down.

    Sabrina Wilson - August 14, 2018

    Yes, that’s the same thing although the ones designed for diffusion are sold in tiny quantities for higher prices because it’s designed for use on humans. You’ll get a higher concentration of the oil for far less cost if you buy cedar oil that is designed for killing insects.

Patricia - May 2, 2019

I have borer Beatles in my floor boards and have purchased cedar wood essential oil. Do I apply the oil directly onto the effected area or must I dilute in water and spray.

    Sabrina Wilson - May 2, 2019

    There are many formulations of cedar oil so you’ll have to read the directions. You’ll be directly applying it, but you want it in the right dose so you don’t waste a lot of it.

Wanda - May 13, 2019

I have powder post beetles in an antique chest. Will cedar oil damage the chest ? Bits hand painted.

    Sabrina Wilson - May 13, 2019

    Cedar oil (like most oils) does darken wood.

rae - July 7, 2019

I have the beetles in my wall, so I won’t be able to get to them directly. Will the cedar oil still work?

susan - August 11, 2019

I bought some bamboo furniture which was invested. I live in Ethiopia and cannot get cedar oil. Please any other recommendations as I don’t have access to buy oil on line. Thanks

Briddle - October 21, 2020

What type of fogger is best for large jobs with cedar oil?

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