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Queensland pine beetle

  • Adult Queensland pine beetle
    Adult Queensland pine beetle
  • A piece of timber showing small holes
    A piece of timber showing small holes

Damage caused by larvae of the Queensland pine beetle.

General information

The Queensland pine beetle is a small native beetle and a pest of hoop pine timbers.

There are around 1100 species of anobiid beetles (Family Anobiidae) world-wide, but only about 200 of these occur in Australia. In Queensland, four species of anobiid occur in or around buildings. The Queensland pine beetle and the common furniture beetle, a native of Europe, are of economic significance, while the pine bark anobiid and the cigarette beetle are of minor importance.

Changes to building practices have decreased the risk of attack to timber-in-service and reports of damage have become less frequent.

Scientific name

Calymmaderus incisus

  • The adult beetle is oval shaped, about 3 mm long, 1.5 mm wide and shiny reddish-brown.
  • The antennae terminate in a three-segmented club.
  • The body surface is covered in fine hairs and numerous minute punctures, which are not discernible to the eye.
  • The legs can often folded tightly against the body.
  • The eggs are white, spherical, 0.4 mm in diameter and just visible.
  • The larva is soft-bodied, clothed with numerous fine hairs, curved, wrinkled, and creamy white with dark-brown mandibles.
  • When fully grown the larva measures 4-5 mm in length and 1.5 mm wide.
  • The pupa is soft, oval, creamy-white and measures 3.0-3.5 mm in length and 1.5 mm wide.
Similar species
  • It is a small native beetle widespread in south-eastern Queensland
  • Previously, it has caused significant damage to timbers only within the area limited by Murwillumbah (New South Wales) in the south, Bundaberg in the north and west to the Great Dividing Range.
Life cycle and habits
  • Live adults are found only from October to February and live for up to four weeks.
  • Eggs are laid in cracks of susceptible timber and larvae hatch in a few weeks.
  • Larvae can burrow long distances in the host timber and only the larval stage is responsible for destruction of timber.
  • Tunnels run with and across the grain, giving a honeycombed appearance.
  • The tunnel is  packed loosely with frass, which, if viewed under a lens, is seen to consist of cigar-shaped pellets made up of the chewed wood.
  • When rubbed into the palm of the hand, the frass is fine and gritty, quite distinguishable from the frass of the powderpost beetle, Lyctus, which is soft and silky.
  • Frass is sometimes ejected in small amounts through flight holes.
  • Before pupating, the larva moves closer to the surface and constructs a pupal chamber.
  • The development period for larvae is usually three years.
  • Mature larvae pupate and adults emerge leaving a circular 2 mm hole in the timber surface.
  • Painted surfaces or wall sheeting materials may be penetrated during emergence.
  • A very slow working instinct that may take many years to cause extensive damage.
Damage to timber
  • Queensland pine beetle is a pest of susceptible hoop pine sapwood and rarely attacks other timbers.
  • It attacks exposed (without paint or varnish finish), susceptible wood in housing and, less commonly, in furniture.
  • Attack is most serious in old homes of more densely populated areas.
  • Susceptible timber, if left untreated, will be reinfested until it is completely honeycombed and has lost most of its strength.
  • Commonly, beetles attack hoop pine floors and walls, but are rarely found in roofing timbers.
  • Typically, only some boards, or sapwood areas within boards, are attacked.
  • Adults emerge mainly from the underside of floors, so that boards which appear quite sound from the top may be riddled with holes underneath.
  • Larvae can reduce susceptible timber to gritty, cigar-shaped pellets.
  • In very old structures, it is likely that any infestation has died out naturally, as the susceptible material was exhausted. In these structures, painted wallboards often have a dimpled surface, with no new holes. This indicates an extinct infestation.
Management - prevention

Prevention is less expensive than curative methods. Damage is prevented in several ways:

  • by limiting insect access to the timber using covering or enclosing materials
  • by painting or polishing with varnish or wax
  • by treating with a preservative at source

Relevant measures are implemented during building construction as a requirement of the Queensland Variation of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) - Qld B1.3 (f) (iv). Consult a professional pest control agency for information about managing a suspected Queensland pine beetle infestation.

Last updated 09 March 2017