A wood borer

There are a number of species of wood borers in Australia, loosely divided into two camps – those that prefer dry timber and those that prefer green. The moisture content of the timber is the defining characteristic of each species and the effect their activity has on humans.

Borers that attack living trees or freshly felled timber are generally of little concern to homeowners. If the freshly felled timber is kiln dried, any larvae present will not survive the process. Timber that goes straight to the mill may contain larvae which will continue to feed and emerge as adults. The adults do not re-infest the timber.

Identifying Characteristics

Lyctid or powder post borers produce a very fine, powdery dust that looks like talcum powder. They are dry timber borers, only attacking timber where the moisture content is below 25%. The adult beetle is dark brown and approximately 2 to 6 mm long.

Anobiid borers produce a gritty dust, a little like salt. Of these, the Queensland pine beetle is the most important. It is a shiny, red-brown beetle about 3 mm long and is rarely found outside of Queensland.

Life Stages

All wood borers have four life stages, starting at the egg stage and progressing to larvae, then pupae and finally emerge from the pupal stage as adult beetles. Adults of most species fly during the spring and summer and generally have a life span of approximately 3 years.


Several species attack living trees and freshly felled timber while other species are pests of dry seasoned wood.


The larvae generally feed on the starch and other nutrients in the sapwood. Where attacks occur on seasoned timber they are usually confined to wet areas such as bathroom floors.

Detrimental Effects to Humans and Property

Some species cause little damage other than small holes in the timber where the adult beetle has emerged. Other species can create emergent holes in wall sheeting, significantly weaken timber and cause structural damage.

Eradication/Control Mechanisms

Because there are so many variations between the different species, and how they affect different types of timber, experts should always be consulted where wood borers are suspected. Without knowing the species of borer and the type of timber that is infested, any treatment is purely speculative.

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