Common furniture beetle

An adult common furniture beetle

An adult common furniture beetle.

General information

The common furniture beetle is an introduced pest of exotic pine and some hardwood timbers and is found primarily in imported furniture and occasionally pine timber buildings in Queensland. There are about 1100 species of anobiid beetles (Family Anobiidae) worldwide, but only about 200 of these occur in Australia.

In Queensland, four species of anobiid may be found 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

Anobium punctatum

Description
  • The adult is about 4 mm long and usually chocolate brown with reddish-brown legs.
  • The head is concealed beneath the hooded (cowl-like) prothorax and the antennae end in a three-segmented club.
  • The beetle is covered with fine yellowish hairs and has longitudinal rows of pits on the forewings.
  • The adult is larger, more rectangular and not shiny like the Queensland pine beetle; microscopic examination is usually required to distinguish between the two species.
  • The characteristic shape of the head and prothorax readily distinguish the common furniture beetle from the powderpost beetles, Lyctus species.
  • The eggs are ovoid and easily seen.
  • The larva is greyish white with a gold-brown head, chestnut-brown mandibles and is covered with fine hairs.
  • The larva is normally hook-shaped, but curls into a tight ball when removed from its tunnel.
Similar species
Distribution
  • A small beetle native to Europe where it is a serious pest of timber.
  • Introduced to Australia, it has established in the southern states where it is a pest of exotic pine timbers.
  • It occurs in cooler, upland areas in south-eastern Queensland (e.g. the Darling Downs) and isn't considered a pest in warmer regions.
  • It is found mostly in imported furniture and recorded only rarely from housing timbers.
Damage to timber
  • It commonly attacks pine timbers, particularly those which have been in service for at least 20 years.
  • It will attack hardwoods such as English oak and infestations have also been recorded from spotted gum.
  • Both the sapwood and the heartwood of some timbers can be infested.
  • Radiata pine in New Zealand is very susceptible and this has led to mandatory immunisation when it is used for building construction or furniture.
  • In Australia there have been very few examples of attacks on radiata pine, despite the widespread use of this timber - the reason for this anomaly is unclear.
  • Attacks in buildings are generally heaviest in the damper areas including cellars, flooring, skirting boards and outbuildings.

Last updated 08 May 2013