Powder-post beetles are a type of wood-eating insect, somewhat like termites. They consume hardwoods of some kinds, including mahogany, maple, and hickory. Since they're independent insects that don't need each other to survive, they can infest many, many smaller bits of wood than a termite population can.
It has been noted that even items as tiny as a spear gun with a wooden handle have infestations. When they burrow around inside the wood, much of the damage to the wood is created by the beetle larvae and not the adults. They are not just one sort of beetle-they are several distinct species that under the common name are generally crammed together.
People also obtain them through importing timber products from other nations. In tropical regions, they are very prevalent, so bamboo or tropical hardwoods are prime perpetrators. Infestations are mostly in newer wood (usually, they avoid it if it's older than around five years). Not preserving or drying the wood properly is the primary cause of an infestation. You can also get them by putting furniture somewhere where it can be exposed to them, such as a garage, a workshop, etc.
Nothing looks the same, so if you've really seen flying insects that appear like termites (swarmers), they're not beetles.
|Powder post beetle damage |
Holes in the timber are the main area to check for with powderpost beetles. They both spit the "sawdust" out of the small little pores of the wood. Drywood termites, however, can return a dirt-like substance to fill the gaps, which dries and is sometimes invisible from the wood itself. You can normally see clear gaps all over where there was "sawdust" if you have powder-post beetles.
If you have powder-post beetles, at night when the beetles are involved, you'll sometimes hear odd clicking noises in the wood.
Just because you see sawdust does not really mean that you've got an active beetle infestation. They go out on their own a lot of the time. Tape over all the holes to see if any new ones pop up is the best way to say. Bear in mind; however, that, even during spring and summer, the beetles generally do not make new openings.
The harm would be much slower if you have powder-post beetles and not termites. You need to have the wood-handled at a certain point, though. This can also be achieved with boron-based treatments, but it will need to be fumigated if the infestation is deeper in the interior of your house.
As a basic guideline, you might be able to handle it yourself by removing panels or treating them if it is hardware that is infested. If it's your house structure, I would have it inspected at least before trying to apply borate therapy on your own. The reduction of air moisture and varnish on the wood surface (which would prevent adults from laying eggs there) are other factors that can help.