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When it comes to insects that devour the wooden lumber used to build homes, most people think of termites. This is understandable, as termites are the most economically significant structural insect pests in the United States, as well as the rest of the world. Although Massachusetts is home to the eastern subterranean termite, which causes massive amounts of damage around the country each year, powder post beetles also bore through structural wood in the state.

Powder post beetles are one of few insect species that infest and damage wood. Adult powder post beetles plant their eggs within the natural cracks and crevices of structural wood. Once larvae hatch from these eggs, they run rampant, creating long tunnels and galleries within pieces of lumber. This destructive activity is normally hidden from humans, but eventually, infested wood develops a sunken appearance, at which point, the damage is usually too great to be corrected.

Powder post beetles have been causing serious damage to historically significant homes within Massachusetts. Last year, multiple historical structures were demolished in the state as a result of sustaining irreversible powder post beetle damage. Luckily, one particular historical structure will remain standing, despite the extensive and costly renovations required to restore the home to its original state.

The Dover Historical Society based in Massachusetts has managed to save the Benjamin Caryl House and the Fisher Barn from demolition following heavy powder post beetle damage. Last spring, officials with the society were prepared to open the notable structures for public tours, but these tours were called off after the beetle infestation and damage had been discovered. Although the society thought that renovations would be complete by the end of last summer, the damage, as well as the beetles themselves, remained. However, tours were conducted throughout the fall season despite the beetle’s presence in the structures. Officials are hoping that the home and barn will be beetle-free by this coming spring.

Do you believe that more attention should be paid to powder post beetle infestation prevention in homes?