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McMahon Exterminating

Pest Guide - Beetles

Powderpost Beetles

Powderpost beetles are so called because in high numbers they are able to turn the inside of a piece of wood into nothing more than a mass of fine powder. These wood destroying beetles can do significant damage to log homes, furniture, wood floors and structural timbers in your home. Powder post beetles are small (1/8 inch) and the adult beetles are seldom seen. Damage is done by the larvae as they create narrow, meandering tunnels in wood as they feed. This stage can last between 1-10 years, depending upon a number of factors including species of beetle, type of wood infested, age of wood, moisture content of wood and air temperature.

People do not realize that the wood is infested until the adult beetles emerge from within the wood. The exit holes are very small, about the size of a pin head. Newly emerged adults mate and lay eggs on or below the surface of bare (unfinished) wood. The eggs hatch into tiny larvae which bore into the wood, emerging as adults 1-10 years later. Infestations develop slowly, but wood can be re-infested year after year. Homeowners are more likely to see damage than the beetles themselves, because the adults are short-lived and are active mainly at night.

Boxelder Bugs

Box Elder bugs do not bite, but their piercing-sucking mouthparts can sometimes puncture skin, causing slight irritation. Their droppings make quite a mess and these pests can accumulate in great numbers in your home if left unchecked.

Warm temperatures interfere with their natural cycles and biology, causing them to reproduce year-round in unwanted areas -- your home! Adults are about 1/2 inch long, bright red or black in color with narrow reddish lines on their back. These insects pests feed principally by sucking juices from the boxelder tree, but are sometimes found on many other plants. In most cases, boxelder bugs cause no major damage inside homes, but their droppings stain curtains and other resting sites. This bug also emits a foul odor when crushed.

Ivory-Marked Beetle

Adult Ivory-Marked Beetles seek out leaves and twigs for food, whereas the larvae bore into the heartwood of trees. In certain areas these beetle larvae can cause great damage to timber. When feeding on dry wood, the larvae grow at such slow rates that adults may emerge from flooring and furniture many years after the wood products have been purchased. Fortunately, this neatly-marked species is not common in our area. The beetle measures from 14-24 mm, not including the length of the long antennae.

Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles are 1/2 inch long and are metallic blue-gree with coppery wing covers. The larvae are 3/4" long and are white and C-shaped. They are a serious invader pest. They do not fly at night but they can be seen flying around during the day.

Japanese beetles feed in masses and severely damage landscape, plants and turf. Adults feed on over 275 plant species including all deciduous tree fruits, many small fruits, ornamenatal shrubs, vegetables, grasses, weeds, and some row crops. Damaged leaves may be skeletonized or they may be almost entirely defoliated. They feed and hide in the center of flowers. Roses are a favorite food.

Larvae feed on roots of grass, herbaceous plants and nursery stock. The grubs can be serious pests of lawns, turf grasses and nursery stock.


Ladybugs, also called lady beetles or ladybird beetles, are a very beneficial group. They are natural enemies of many insects, especially aphids and other sap feeders. A single lady beetle may eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime.

Adult lady beetles have very characteristic convex, hemispherical to oval shaped bodies that can be yellow, pink, orange, red, or black, and usually are marked with distinct spots. This is a type of warning coloration to discourage other animals that may try to eat them. Like many other brightly-colored insects,they are protected by an odorous, noxious fluid that seeps out of their joints when the insects are disturbed. The bright body coloration helps some predators to remember the encounter and avoid attacking insects with similar markings.