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Bugs in air-dried ash

Can a stack of ash be saved from an infestation of powderpost beetles? June 20, 2000

This is my first time trying to dry wood. I have a stack of ash that has been air drying outdoors for two years. I'm ready to move it into the basement of my house to finish drying it.

Problem is, there is some type of worm in the wood. Will they die as the wood dries? Do I need to worry about them getting into the wood framing of my house? Can I kill them?

If your wood has been properly stacked and covered, it's already pretty dry, so bringing it inside isn't going to kill the worms. You need to figure out what they're eating and get rid of their food source. I can't believe they're eating the wood. Remove all bark and rotten wood from your boards, though (you should do this before you dry it anyway).

By the way, I don't recommend having all your wood indoors. It only takes a couple of months for dry boards to acclimate to indoors. Bring in what you need; a big indoor woodpile takes up a lot of shop space.

It sounds like to me you may have powderpost bettles. I have heard that there is a powder treatment you can apply to the wood to kill these bugs. You may be able to find out about this powder from your local county extension office.

I may be biased, but I feel a conventional dry kiln is the best way to dry hardwoods, especially if you may have any kind of living matter in or on your wood (i.e., worms, bugs, fungus, bacteria, etc.). The higher heats would have more of a tendency to kill these pests.

You can hire a pesticide person to gas the wood with methyl bromide, or, as the upper post suggests, kiln it with a finishing temperature of 160 degrees for a few hours.

Bug in ash is probably the powerpost beetle. All of my incoming green wood gets a spray of lindane prior to stickering the lumber, this will control the critter before they get in the wood. Lindane is a contact killer, i.e., the bugs have to come in contact for it to be effective. Lindane will not affect the bugs in the wood until they come out to finish their life cycle.

If you don't want to fumigate the wood then heat will work. You can also gas the wood.

If the boards are small enough or can be cut down, C02 will work. I had wormy chestnut table tops which I placed in a large plastic bag and pressurized to kill the vermin.

Are the holes about 1/8 inch or larger in diameter? If so, then it is a common anobiid powderpost beetle which does not like dry wood, so the problem will disappear. Of course, the insects are in the air-drying yard, and will infect other lumber that is there. This is why some treatments (such as CO2) appear to work to kill insects -- in truth, however, the insects are eliminated by the dry wood, not the gas.

It would take over two years of gassing to kill the lyctid powderpost beetle and its eggs, as the eggs may require two years to hatch. Lack of oxygen does not kill the eggs!

If the holes are smaller, then you may have the lyctid powderpost beetle, which indeed can cause substantial problems, even in dry wood.

A temperature of 130 degrees F will kill all insects, eggs, and fungi. It takes about 24 hours in most cases (this is the temperature in the wood).
Gene Wengert, forum moderator