Know your enemy

beetle1

Wood has many enemies; fire, moisture, fungus, animals, and bugs just to name a few. Beetles are the subject of this post.

Background
My favorite way to obtain lumber is to find logs from fallen trees and having them sawn up. I recently obtained a 24in diameter walnut log that came from a tree blown down during hurricane Elvis. The log laid on the ground for almost a decade and time took its toll. There was a bad spot on one end and a lot of the sapwood was rotten, but the diameter made the log worth the risk to me.

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I am happy to report that the log yielded several 17in wide and clear boards, but during the sawing I discovered a few of these nasty looking critters! Not knowing much about bugs, I assumed the worst. These beetles were going to turn this lumber into sawdust before I could.

beetle2

Drats!

After a bit of stress, I decided to try a more logical approach. Google, can you help me? I snapped these pictures of the pests (I only spotted 2) and performed an image search. Within a few seconds I found matching images that lead me to the University of Florida website. According to their research these particular beetles (the horned passalus) live in moist, decaying logs rather than infesting dry lumber. So it seems that the damage should stop when the lumber drys. This is a great relief because I really did not want to kiln dry this lumber or soak it in expensive chemicals. Lesson learned – don’t assume the worst. When dealing with pests get the facts.

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Now I just have to wait for my premium lumber to dry naturally and those beetles should be moving on to more rotten pastures.

If you have experiences with wood pests to share, leave them in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Bob Jones

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6 thoughts on “Know your enemy

  1. Doug

    Nice score! How long do you think you’ll have to wait till they’re dry? I would have thought after 10 years, they would be through a bit of that process already. Do you have a MC value for those boards?

    Later

    Doug

    Reply
    1. bobjones2000 Post author

      I didn’t measure to mc yet, but I’d say they were about halfway through the process. I had them sawn 5/4 so about a year should be plenty. I’m already making plans for them. 🙂

      Reply
  2. michaellangford2012

    Those particular beetles are not your enemy. They are part of the miracle of nature, helping to break down and digest fallen trees for millennia. It’s a process we broadly refer to as life cycle, or evolution if you prefer. The beetles that are more likely to damage your wood are the lictid and anobiid beetles, most of them so small as to pass unnoticed. The adult lays eggs in the cambium of living trees, and eventually the larvae hatch and bore their way out of the wood of cut or fallen trees leaving behind pinholes and telltale dust. Taking off the bark helps a lot; you can certainly kill eggs and larvae by kiln-drying, or you might try a borax solution applied with a garden sprayer.

    Reply
    1. bobjones2000 Post author

      Thanks for tip tips! That agrees with the website I found. The beetle was only the enemy while the log was rotting. It shouldn’t be a problem now.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Very early planning – Roubo Lathe Project | The Christian Tool Cabinet

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