How to Treat and Get Rid of Bostrichid Powder Post Beetles in my Rattan Furniture

How to Treat and Get Rid of Bostrichid Powder Post Beetles in my Rattan Furniture

Have you noticed small round oval holes on your rattan furniture? Powdery flour-like dust mounds on or below your rattan furniture? Spotted a crawling elongated brown beetle in your home? Or perhaps you just bought the perfect rattan piece for your home and just want to know what to look out for? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then this article is for you. Below we dive into how to identify what is damaging your rattan furniture piece and what you can do to prevent and stop it.

What’s living in/making holes in my rattan furniture?

Spiders and mites may setup shop in between rattan weaves as it provides a convenient and safe space for them to hide. They are easily removed and discouraged with regular dusting. In Australia, though, Rattan furniture’s most elusive destructive enemy is the Bostrichid Powderpost Beetle – a tropical beetle with a keen taste for bamboo, rattan and other wood types with high starch levels still present in the sapwood.

What is the Bostrichid Powderpost Beetle and are they dangerous?

An adult Bostrichid Powderpost Beetle is between 7 to 9mm long, cylindrical in shape and reddish dark brown to black in colour. Whilst they are not native to Australia, the Power Post beetle is found throughout Australia and is a common timber pest.

As per Australia Biosecurity laws, prior to importing all our Rattan pieces are professionally treated by an Australia Biosecurity approved treatment provider to stop and prevent the likelihood of imported infestations. However, the threat of a local infestation remains, given their widespread existence in Australia.

The female powder post beetle lays her eggs in the cracks of hardwood timber and when they hatch the larvae feed on sapwood/starch within the wood. The larvae mature into adult beetles which then bore their way out of the wood usually around April to July. They leave behind small round to oval shaped exit holes and internal burrow tunnels of approximately 2mm in diameter.

The powder post beetle doesn’t bite and is not dangerous to people or animals. But they can cause significant damage and weaken the structural integrity of exposed wood in houses, furniture, and panelling.

What causes a Bostrichid Powder Post Beetle attack?

The Bostrichid Powder Post beetle is attracted to favourable conditions such as high moisture and warm, humid temperatures which raise the moisture level of porous wood. This creates the perfect environment for the female adult beetle to deposit her eggs, from which larvae emerge and grow.

What are the signs of Powder post Beetle infestation?

  • Small round to oval burrow holes visible on rattan wood surface. 
  • A powdery flour-like dust mound on the floor underneath or on the furniture piece. 
  • Presence of crawling dark brown to black cylindrical shaped beetles on or near the rattan furniture or elsewhere in your home. 
  • Noises such as ramping and ticking coming from wood during the night

How do I prevent a Powder Post Beetle attack?

Prevention is better than cure. Storing and using your rattan piece in a well ventilated and humidity-controlled space with frequent cleaning and finish maintenance is your first line of defence against these unwanted guests. Ideally you want to keep the moisture level of the wood below 15 as this creates unfavourable conditions and reduces the risk of infestation.

Young, freshly milled bamboo, rattan and wood is more susceptible to an attack due to the high starch content in the sapwood, which is what the larvae feed on. As the wood naturally age overtime, starch levels naturally decrease, and the risk of an infestation becomes unlikely for pieces over 5 years old.

Regular refinishing and re-storing the finish of the exposed rattan soon after treatment, can help prevent the likelihood of future infestations.

How do I treat and get rid of the Powder Post Beetle?

You can use DIY at-home treatment methods or alternatively call professional pest control for ease of mind. We recommend isolating the rattan piece and moving it away from other young susceptible wood to reduce chances of emerging adult female beetles establishing a new colony.

The first step is to determine if it is an active or inactive infestation. Signs of an active infestation include the presence of fresh powder like saw dust, live beetles or new exit holes appearing. Inactive infestation includes old exit holes but no other signs and no new holes appearing. In this case, you may take a wait-and-monitor approach and start treatment if you notice signs of active infestation appearing. Between April and July is a good time to keep an eye out for any new damage as this is typically the period adult beetles burrow exit holes.

It is important to note that all the below treatment methods kill the live larvae and adult beetles, but any remaining eggs within the wood can survive. You must monitor and repeat treatment, if necessary, until the entire colony lifecycle is broken and killed off.

DIY at home treatment options include:

Borax Dry Powder Treatment

Borax is available to purchase from your local grocery store

Here's how you can use borax powder to treat a Bostrichid Powder Post Beetle infestation in rattan furniture:

    1. Prepare the surface: Clean the affected rattan furniture thoroughly to remove any dust, debris, or frass (powdery wood particles) left behind by the beetles. Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to ensure thorough cleaning.

    2. Apply borax powder: Sprinkle borax powder generously onto the affected areas of the rattan furniture. Pay special attention to cracks, crevices, and any visible exit holes made by the beetles. Borax works by dehydrating and killing the beetles and their larvae.

    3. Work it into the wood: Use a soft brush or cloth to work the borax powder into the rattan fibers as much as possible. This helps ensure that the borax penetrates deep into the wood where the beetles may be hiding.

    4. Repeat if necessary: Depending on the severity of the infestation, you may need to repeat the borax treatment several times to completely eradicate the beetles. Be sure to monitor the furniture regularly for any signs of continued infestation.

    5. Protective measures: After treating the rattan furniture with borax, consider applying a protective finish or sealant to help prevent future infestations. This can also help preserve the rattan and prolong its lifespan. View our Rattan Carekit here.


The Freezer Treatment

This method is only suitable for rattan pieces that are small enough to fit s chest freezer. Traditional kitchen freezers are not suitable.

  1. Place furniture item in the closed chest freezer at minus 18 degrees Celsius
  2. Remove after 72 hours.
  3. Wipe away any surface moisture with a dry cloth and let the piece dry in a well-ventilated sunny area.
  4. Wait and monitor.
  5. Repeat the process if signs of active infestation reappear.

Other surface treatments:

GUARDIAN® and SHELL-GUARD® are borate formulation products that are labelled safe for DIY at home use and registered with the EPA for treatment of powder post beetle. For treatment, follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.

Bora-Care® and Tim-bor® are two other borate formulation products for treatment of powder post beetle, but it is recommended that they are applied by professional pest controllers only.

Call professional pest control

If you prefer to leave treatment up to the professionals, ring a professional pest controller. They will inspect your home and furniture and propose a suitable treatment plan, if necessary.

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