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Subject: Wood borer infestation

Wood borer infestation

From: Thomas A. Parker <bugman22>
Date: Friday, December 8, 2000
Dee Stubbs <a5a24354 [at] telus__net> writes

>Has anyone had recent experience with eradicating a wood borer
>infestation in a large painted wooden artifact?

As a consulting entomologist with 25 years experience designing IPM
programs for museums, historic properties and libraries plus a host
of litigation experience as a technical witness in wood destroying
organism situations, I would like to offer a few words about the
possible powder post beetle infestation in a large, painted wooden
artifact housed as described in a museum.

Powder post beetle infestations may be introduced from a remote site
into a museum.  Often these infestations come from firewood stored
outdoors or an artifact which has been housed in an unheated, moist
situation.  Sometimes infestations develop in an unheated historic
structure in structural members, flooring, or furniture.  Powder
post beetles require fairly high moisture content in the wood in
order to survive and reproduce.  Once an artifact is brought into a
building which is heated in the winter, the wood dries out over time
and the infestation is eliminated.  Chemical measures, freezing, or
heating an artifact are therefore not necessary.

If this "infestation" is actually active I doubt if any measures are
required for eliminating it.  Just let the wood dry out in the
heated structure and the infestation will die out.

If one wishes to determine if indeed the infestation is active, I
suggest using a colored wax stick to seal all visible holes
currently found in the piece.  Any new holes will have lots of
powder drifting from a bright hole adjacent to the sealed ones.  An
active infestation will have lots of drift and bright holes.  In
addition, if it really is active, there will be holes actually
plugged with powder.  Old holes are dark in color with no drifting
powder.  Common powder post beetles (Anobiidae & Lyctidae) are
restricted to sapwood, for it is this part of a tree that provides
nutrients sufficient for survival.  Heartwood is not attacked in an
artifact, such as has been described.

If an artifact has had infestation in the past, simply by moving the
piece, some powder will drift from the old holes and give the
appearance that the piece is infested, when in fact it is not.  I've
seen this on occasion when a piece of furniture is transported into
a museum.

Do not panic.  Take your time with this situation.  The beetles go
through a one or two year life cycle, naturally emerging as beetles
in the Spring of the year.  I would be inclined to wait this
situation out.

There is another situation where small, round holes appear in an
artifact with drifting powder (frass).  And that's a situation where
a small beetle called a cigarette beetle [rarely a drugstore beetle]
infests a piece, primarily feeding on glue used to hold the piece
together.  I have seen this situation in the glue used on joints for
a dry sink and also have seen it in situations where papier-mache
has been used as the base and the larvae are feeding on the glue.
I've seen the latter in lacquered furniture inlaid with mother of
pearl.  Therefore an accurate assessment of what really is causing
the problem is in order.

I'd be happy to field questions via the internet or phone to assist
in this situation.

Thomas A. Parker, PhD
Pest Control Services, Inc.
14 E. Stratford Avenue
Lansdowne, PA 19050

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:33
                 Distributed: Monday, December 18, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-14-33-003
Received on Friday, 8 December, 2000

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