Related Page:  Pantry moths

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Powder Post Beetles

Aug. 2002

We have a small property in West Marin that has been recently looked at by a termite company. There are powder post beetles in various places - decks, floor, carport beam, garage wall, basement, etc. Just a fact of life in Inverness. The termite person recommended tenting the structures, while a person who has done a lot of work on the property (and in the area) recommends treating with copper sulfate (sprayed) and keeping track of the infestations so that when the wood becomes too damaged (i.e. soft), it can be replaced. He says that tenting is bad news for neighbors and other living things, and it's just a one shot deal - beetles will come back. In my mind it sounds like continued spraying and monitoring is right, but what about tenting too? We don't have a tenting estimate yet, but I think it will be expensive. Thanks for any advice on this - I'm pretty confused about what to do, and don't want to spend the money on tenting if it is really not necessary. I also wonder how hazardous it is to do the spraying, and if we should attempt it. Susan

For any insect problem, I recommend this book: Common-Sense Pest Control: Least-Toxic solutions for your home, garden, pets and community by William Olkowski. It is available at the Berkeley Public Library. There is thorough coverage in a chapter on wood-boring beetles. Heat or electricity can be used to kill beetles in wood. Wood can be treated with a less-toxic chemical like borate. There is a list of possible treatments, their effectiveness and their toxicity in the book. Sally

I had what I thought to be a significant infestation of powder post beetles in my home in Berkeley. I contacted Live Oak Structural, a company that uses the least toxic products possible. They sprayed my garage and workshop area with a borax based treatment. I was pleased with their work and have not seen any evidence of beetle action in the past year. Good Luck! Indigo

Tiny beetles in my house

Jan. 2003

Help! My house has been overrun by a tiny black beetle (1/8 inch long)that has two yellow dots on it. It seems to congregate around my sinks, though it's all over the house now. Some have wings, most don't. The descriptions of carpet beetles I've read sound right, but the pictures don't match. I have a 2 month old, so I don't want to fumigate my house and want a non- toxic solution targeted to this bug. Anyone had something similar, or know a way to identify it? Thanks. Lina

Here is a web page about pests at UC Davis: To find out what you have, click on the carpet beetles, pantry pests, and wood boring beetles. I also like to recommend the book ''Common-Sense Pest Control'' by Willaim Olkowski. It is in the Berkeley Library. It is difficult to figure out how to control them unless you know what they are eating. sunsol

Red flour beetles in our kitchen cabinets

Sept. 2002

We are looking for tips on how to get rid of what we believe are red flour beetles in our kitchen cabinets. We have tried the ''throw everything out'' and wash out the cabinets with non- toxic sprays, but eventually they seem to come back (I am sure it is because they were never really gone). I also understand they frequently come home with you from the supermarket so I don't expect any solution to be forever, but any suggestions on a non-toxic or the least toxic approach to getting rid of the little stinkers would be much appreciated. Thanks anon

We used to have problems with flour beetles and moths. For several years, we've put bulk goods (flour, rice, oatmeal, etc.) from the grocery store into glass canning jars. This has fixed the problem, without pesticides. You can get large jars at hardware stores, they are very tough, and they look a lot nicer on the shelf than plastic bags or plastic storage containers. Once in awhile it's apparent that a single jar's contents have bugs -- yes, from the grocery store -- but it never spreads past the one jar. Kate

Hi there. Re the Red Flour Beetles question, I would recommend calling for advice BIRC: 510 524-2567 (I think that this is still the number for this nonprofit which specializes in giving advice for nontoxic remedies to insect problems.) Good luck with this! Beth

Little beetle-type bugs on our kitchen counter

In the past two weeks we've noticed little beetle-type bugs on our kitchen counter. At first I thought they were fruit flies, but they don't seem to fly. Anyone know what they are? How can I find out what they are? Danielle

You might have flour beetles- rather common, can be in grains or something you haven't opened in a while. This link has big photos, and some directions on getting rid of them (sort of like the recent moth question). Link: Nils