Killing or Preventing Wood Boring Beetles

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Blog entry by mmh posted 03-21-2009 07:42 PM 23485 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’d like to hear your input on how to kill or prevent wood boring beetles in lumber.

When I receive wood, especially green, if I’m storing this indoors, I make sure to remove the bark and inspect for signs of wood boring insects. When I received a shipment of Texas Ebony, upon my request it was milled and had been liberally doused with an insecticide prior to shipment. I removed the bark and most of the sapwood to reveal grubs still alive. I removed as much tainted wood as possible and liberally applied rubbing alcohol several times before allowing to dry and store indoors.

A few months later, in the middle of winter, I had adult beetles (1.5” long x 1/4” wide, black w/ green spots) flying around the basement towards the lights for my indoor plants. I found wood dust at the base of one of the ebony slabs and re-applied the alcohol (which worked on a previous log). Fortunately I found most/all that evolved and destroyed them. I’m hoping they did not mate and re-establish in the ebony or other fancy woods I have stored.

I also have numerous glue traps on the floor and have dusted the crevices of the basement with boric acid to prevent crawling bugs. I have to make sure applications are not toxic to myself or pets, so the substance has to be applied carefully and out of the way.

I’d like to hear how you deal with this issue or any other practical solutions.

Thanks in advance (TIA),
Meilie Moy-Hodnett

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

13 comments so far

View lew's profile


13383 posts in 4916 days

#1 posted 03-21-2009 08:17 PM

From what I have read, kiln drying will do the trick. I am not sure how high the temperature must be raised to kill the grubs.

Recently, there was a post here on fumigating the wood by making a tent and using one of those fogger type insecticide bombs.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4873 days

#2 posted 03-21-2009 08:31 PM

Not sure if it gets cold enough in Maryland but I understand a couple of cycles of about 3 days well below freezing (-018 to 25C), 3 days above will kill off most, if not all, bugs…unless you’re talking about Manitoba mosquitoes which just consider that type of freeze thaw cycle a normal Manitoba spring :-)

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 5288 days

#3 posted 03-21-2009 09:44 PM

I collect a lot of twigs, saplings, roots and vines for my rustic furniture business.
Much of the twigs that I use are left with the bark on, especially willow, hickory and silver maple.
I treat the wood immediately after harvesting with a mild solution of laundry borax – about 1/4 cup dissolved in a gallon of warm water. I wipe down the wood with the solution, let it soak in and air dry.

There are commercial pest control products based upon various salts of borax, but the laundry borax is chemically similar enough to work very well.

-- 温故知新

View Harold's profile


310 posts in 5008 days

#4 posted 03-21-2009 09:44 PM

Mark is correct, we have a constant problem with insects here in Hawaii. I will take the material to a local ice house and have them freeze them. For example I recently took in 4 completed(no finish applied) tables and the total cost was $120….another example was 2 live edge mango slabs and a table, with the cost being $75.

the thought behind the 2 cycles or freezing it twice, is that any larvae or eggs that survive will immediately hatch and the second treatment will catch these before they begin reproducing…typically I’ll let the material stand 5 days in between.

Depending on the size of the slabs or lumber your dealing with a chest type freezer will work fine. I have not noticed any negative effects occurring to the materials, nor have I heard of any from the regional wood workers.

The kiln would in theory work depending on the drying schedule and temperature, although many insects can tolerate relatively high temperatures, 140-150 degrees…. a kiln treatment would have to be a little high…case hardening could be problem.

-- If knowledge is not shared, it is forgotten.

View mmh's profile


3689 posts in 4883 days

#5 posted 03-22-2009 01:00 AM

The borax solution sounds easy and practical for green wood.

As for dry woods and the freezing technique, our most severe winter temps this past year were in the teens and that’s really cold for here. Most of my wood is stored in the basement, although I do have some green slabs and logs stored outdoors. I’m surprised to read that only a 5 day wait is needed for them to hatch from eggs. But then the cold/warm may activate them to start their life cycle quickly.

The Texas ebony slabs range up to 6 ft long, and I don’t own a chest type freezer. This is an interesting option as it doesn’t involve toxic chemicals and is relatively accessible. Since trees such as the Texas Ebony are from warmer climates, the freezing may do the trick. Maybe I can slip a few pieces of lumber among the ice-cream shelves at Safeway.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View mmh's profile


3689 posts in 4883 days

#6 posted 03-22-2009 01:22 AM

As for the Manitoba mosquitos, YIKES! The mosquitos down here in Maryland absolutely LOVE me, so the Manitoba mosquitos would carry me away like the evil monkeys did to Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 5046 days

#7 posted 03-22-2009 01:46 AM

Very interesting series THANKS to everyone who has posted!!! Make me wonder about the limbs I have stored on the top shelves. ;-)

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 5288 days

#8 posted 03-22-2009 02:10 AM


Borax is not just for green wood.
It’s an industry standard for treating wood, even indoor termite treatments.
However, it is water soluble and will not work for outdoors projects.

-- 温故知新

View mmh's profile


3689 posts in 4883 days

#9 posted 03-22-2009 07:38 AM

I’m concerned if a piece of wood is “dry” that you would apply a wet solution that contains water. When I spray the alcohol, it dries pretty fast, faster than water. So wouldn’t the moisture content be a concern for using the borax solution for dry wood?

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View trucker12349's profile


92 posts in 4646 days

#10 posted 03-22-2009 04:39 PM

That flying beetle sounds an awful lot like the asian lonhorn beetle that has infested trees in our area that has caused 18,000 trees to be cut down in the last 2 months. They had an infestation in new jersey last year of the same beetle. The beetle are 1 1/2 inches long , not including it’s antennae. They are black and have white spots all over and the antennae is banded in black and white. These beetles infest the followwing host trees, Maple ( including jap maple),horse chestnut, mimosa, birch, hackelberry, ash, sycamore, poplar, willow, mountain ash, and all species of elm. If you find these call the usda before they spread or you will have a lot of good trees removed very quickly,. Our area looks like a tornado came thru here. With all the trees gone property values drop. Those 18,000 trees removed were in only a 2 square mile area. These beetles bore a perfectly round 1\2 hole when they bore into the tree to lay their eggs.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 5288 days

#11 posted 03-23-2009 12:02 AM


Any water based product will raise a little grain on dry wood.
However, the borax solution leaves behind an effective and safe insecticide that will keep on working after the water evaporates. You don’t need to soak the dry wood, just wipe it down with the solution.

If you are sticker stacking wood horizontally, you can just spread a little dry borax powder on the wood.
A little goes a long way.

-- 温故知新

View Karson's profile


35276 posts in 5561 days

#12 posted 04-24-2009 12:16 AM

Millie: I’ve used Tim-Bor on my wood and it seems to take care of the little critters. If I see white powder on my boards I spray the board it and the board above it with the Tim-Bor solution. I keep it premixed in a Windex bottle for such use.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View BlueStingrayBoots's profile


866 posts in 5163 days

#13 posted 01-11-2010 03:55 AM

My local friends use there oven or for larger pieces a homemade kiln. 125 degrees for a few days will dry and exterminate. Heater vents or ac vents are what I think they said.

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