Possibly European in origin, but it is found in many countries in temperate climates, including the United States, New Zealand, and England, and it is a much more severe pest in England and other European countries than in the U.S. It is, however, a very common problem in east coast cities and in northern California.
The furniture beetle prefers wood with a high moisture content, and is capable of infesting both hardwoods and softwoods, with older fir timbers such as subflooring commonly infested. Eggs do not hatch well at a relative humidity below 60%, and in an indoor setting the life cycle may extend to two or three years from egg to adult, possibly as a result of the low humidity. In an outdoor setting it normally completes in a single year. The beetles can continue to reinfest the wood they have emerged from for generation after generation, resulting in complete destruction of the wood.
Typically, the species damaging to structural wood members have their heads hidden when viewed from above, tucked below the overhanging prothorax. Their antennae are composed of a basal series of very small segments and the three terminal segments greatly enlarged and elongated, and much longer than the previous 8 segments altogether. The adult beetle is a gray to grayish brown and is only about 5 mm long, although there often is a wide disparity in sizes. It has a dull appearance due to the numerous rows of longitudinal pores or pits along its elytra.
Damage is identified first by the numerous holes the adults have emerged through. These are small and round, and fecal material falls easily from them when the wood is tapped hard. The fecal matter is very dry and powdery, but under magnification is easily seen as small cigar-shaped or egg-shaped pellets. Feeding runs with the grain of the wood.
Characteristicts Important to Control:
Control of most beetles that infest structural wood begins with using clean, un-infested wood so the insects are not built in. For beetles that can re-infest the wood they emerge from elimination usually relies on fumigation, although heating or freezing of smaller objects may be effective. Removal and replacement of the infested wood is also effective where it is practical. Control of wood moisture will also help a great deal in the prevention of this species.
The application of a borate insecticide where allowed by the product labeling will also serve to prevent beetles from entering the wood, and possibly kill larvae inside if penetration of the material is deep enough.