Currently viewing the category: "Powder Post Beetles"

Subject: Stout’s Hardwood Borer
Location: Redwood City, CA
September 28, 2012 6:23 pm
We seem to have had an ’infestation’ of sorts for the past month. I don’t know how they are entering the office, but we are on the 2nd floor and there are quite a few trees outside. These guys fly around, are up on the carpeted walls, or in boxes. They bite each other’s legs off if kept in the same container.
Signature: -D

Stout’s Hardwood Borer

Hi D,
Perhaps you have some new construction or new furniture at your office and wood that was infested with Stout’s Hardwood Borer larvae was used as a raw material.  Your observation that they bite each others’ legs off might explain why this Stout’s Hardwood Borer from our archive and this individual that our editorial staff photographed are also missing legs.  It is possible that males battle with one another for dominance.

Stout’s Hardwood Borers

Subject: Bug to Human Detente
Location: Los Angeles, CA (Venice)
August 17, 2012 6:12 pm
hello experts. so clearly I know who I am, but the idiotic human who scooped me off his floor last night has nary a clue. after eyeballing me for what felt like ever (i have my pride) he placed me carefully in a glass with a bit of dirt, some blades of grass and a small drop of water (moron)… as if I am some common insect!! I tried to communicate with him but his telepathic abilities are far from advanced. I have included a few self-portraits along with his email in hopes that you can tell the misguided man who I am, a bit about me and where I should be released…. thank you in advance, Mystery.
Signature: Mystery, the Matte Black Wonder Bug

Stout’s Hardwood Borer

Dear Mystery, the Matte Black Wonder Bug,
Tell the “idiotic human” you are a Stout’s Hardwood Borer and (s)he may read about you in our archive.  You are only the second representative of your species on our website and the first example of a Stout’s Hardwood Borer was discovered by our staff on Temple Street downtown and brought back to the What’s That Bug? offices to be photographed.  Though the Stout’s Hardwood Borer,
Polycaon stoutii, is well represented on BugGuide, there is not much information except “Named after Dr. A.B. Stout, a friend of John LeConte who provided him with the first specimen.”

September 8, 2010
Today while walking to the film lab between Union Station and Temple Street, Daniel noticed this Stout’s Hardwood Borer on a telephone pole.  He brought it our Mt Washington offices to photograph it because it is a very underrepresented species on our website.  We got that common name from Charles Hogue’s Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, but BugGuide refers to it as the Black Polycaon and has very little information about it.  Hogue on the other hand writes extensively about the Stout’s Hardwood Borer.  Hogue writes that they “appear in the fall (September) in unlikely places, such as in the hallways and rooms of new buildings, in warehouses, and in homes.  Their occurrence is explained by their breeding habits.  The larvae are wood borers that feed within various hardwoods such as oak, California Laurel, alder, maple, and eucalyptus — construction oods that are often used in building boxes, shipping crates, storage racks, and the slats used behind scoustic ceiling tiles;  the larvae will also infest finished wood products such as cupboards, cabinets, and furniture.  The adult Stout’s beetles may emerge from these products after the construction is completed and even after the product has been finished. … There is no evidence that the species reinfests lumber or manufactured wood products once the adults have emerged from them.”  Daniel can’t help but wonder though if the telephone pole in downtown Los Angeles was a likely breeding ground for the species.

This specimen is missing its left rear leg.

Eating my nightstand
Dear Bugman, I built these nightstands a year ago. Clean clear pine case w/ madrone top(old worm holes in top). I awoke up one morning to fine a dime size mound covering 7mm hole. Two days cat and mouse, and I caught this little guy. Two days later, another mound. Ergates spiculatus? We are very fond of our matching nightstands. Please advise if you will. Thank you,
A C Pitt.

Dear A C Pitt,
Way too small for Ergates. This is Stout’s Hardwood Borer, Polycaon stouti. Adults frequently apper in homes because the larvae bore in a great variety of hardwoods including oak, maple, alder, eucalyptus and laurel. The larvae infest the wood and construction of the product and finishing the wood does not deter them from continuing to feed. Then the adults emerge often from furniture, cupboards and cabinets. I guess the old wormholes should have been an indication that there was an infestation.

What is this beetle?
This beetle was flying noisily around our kitchen last night in Ventura, CA. We caught it and put it in a jar. It fell asleep around 11:00PM. It was still quiet this morning when I took the pictures. I left it outside on the jar lid, and after a while it climbed out and hid under the lid.
Dennis Strauss

Ed. Note: Shortly after writing to us, Dennis wrote back that he located his beetle in Hogue’s Insects of the Los Angeles Basin. He identified it as Stout’s Hardwood Borer, Polycaon stouti. The larvae are wood borers found in oak, maple and eucalyptus among other trees. Adults often emerge from wood used in construction.Here is part of Dennis’ second letter:

I’m guessing it came from one of the eucalyptus trees behind our backyard wall. We don’t have any wood furniture less than 10 years old, and our house was built in 1991, so I don’t think it hitched a ride into the house inside anything manufactured.
Dennis Strauss