Reference Guide For Insect Identification



  • Powder-post refers to type of damage, not species.  Name comes from feeding methods which produce very fine sawdust.
  • Usually do not exist in older wood when starch content is under 3%
  • Several holes (i.e. shotgun blast) may be apparent.
  • Very seldom infest softwoods (pine or other needle-bearing trees)
  • Most have 4 wings.
  • Most beetles which cause damage are ¼inch in size or less.
  • Seldom re-infest same nests.
  • Holes vary in size and shape.
  • Sawdust (frasse) does not contain insect parts.


  • Males don't sting.
  • Females may sting but only when handled.
  • Makes the biggest holes (up to ½"), holes are perfectly round.
  • May attack dry, seasoned wood.
  • Prefer softwoods (pine, cedar, fir, redwood).
  • Stuff holes with insecticide soaked cotton.
  • May re-infest same nesting site for years.
  • “Vibration" A sound may be heard in wood.


  • Most wood damaging insect is subterranean termite (all states except Alaska).
  • Often present but very seldom seen.
  • Lighter colored than carpenter ants.
  • 4 wings are of equal length, if present.
  • Broad waist.
  • Straight antennae.


  • Can't be distinguish by color and size alone.
  • Can be identified by one node and evenly rounded upper thorax.
  • Will travel up to 100 yards for food.
  • Sounds like '“crinkling cellophane" in wood.
  • Bent antennae.
  • Do not eat wood.
  • Presence is not evident of infestation in wood.
  • Will damage dry wood if moist wood is not available.
  • Hind wings are shorter than front wings (if wings are evident).
  • Non-carpenter ants have uneven thorax & do not infest wood.
  • Sawdust (frasse) may contain dead ants. is accepting log home maintenance articles from our subscribers and from log home owners. Contact us for details.