Native to North America, and most common in the western states.
These beetles may invade living trees as well as dead trees and lumber made from both hardwoods and softwoods. Their name is derived from their habit of boring into telephone cables, possibly to access the paper sheathing and insulation within. Females bore into solid wood to lay their eggs, and upon completion of a life cycle they may re-infest the same wood repeatedly, or attack other suitable woods nearby. There is a single generation per year, with the larval stage lasting up to 9 months. The beetles have been known to cause severe damage to wine casks, hardwood paneling and floors, and sheetrock which they emerge through from the wall members within the wall voids. They go after corks in wine bottles, and appear to be attracted to freshly painted buildings.
The adult beetle is a small, shiny black beetle about 6 mm long. There are several species of similar beetles in the genus in the U.S., including the Red-shouldered Shothole Borer, common in the eastern U.S. They have the typical appearance of the family, being cylindrical, short, with the head hidden from above by the overhanging prothorax, and with the top of the prothorax covered with raised, rough ridges. The antennae consist of several very short basal segments followed by 3 greatly enlarged, serrate terminal segments. Damage from the Lead cable borer will show narrow feeding channels that are packed with their fecal matter, which is stringy and stays tightly in the feeding channels even when the wood is opened to expose the fecal material.
Characteristicts Important to Control:
Heavily infested materials should be discarded if they are not attached and are not of value, such as small wood objects. Infested wood objects that are of value or non-removable may need fumigation or some alternative treatment that will penetrate to kill larvae and adult insects that are within the wood material. Infested wood that can be removed and replaced may also be the proper alternative.