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What to do about wood boring beetles

 
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whiskers57
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Joined: 13 Dec 2013
Posts: 54
Location: South centeral Ky.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07 14 8:45 am    Post subject: What to do about wood boring beetles Reply with quote

I'm getting signs of beetles in some of my hickory. What should/can I do about it? Will it be a problem if I use it in the smoker?
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BigOrson
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Joined: 02 Dec 2006
Posts: 2858
Location: Marietta, GA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07 14 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They pop when you cook them. Other than the destruction to your wood pile, if the wood hasn't been treated with any sort of insecticide, it should be OK to use. Might burn a bit faster due to the reduced density. This is how nature breaks down dead cellulose. As long as it isn't too punky to burn, use it.
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necron 99
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Joined: 04 Aug 2007
Posts: 2590
Location: San Antonio, TX

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07 14 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I ran into a similar problem last year when harvesting shagbark hickory downed by the Super Derecho that passed through this area in 2012. Frass started appearing on the wood I had cut

I quarantined the affected hickory in 3 mil thick contractor grade large black trash bags but even with double bagging the irregular shapes of the wood pieces and weight of the wood made rips in the bags whenever they were moved around, so this wasn't going to be a long term solution for storing the wood until I was ready to burn it when cooking.

I did a bit of internet research and determined the likely culprit in my case was powder post beetles, who evidently love hickory and in general hardwood dead less than 5 years.

edited to add this link to a University of Kentucky article regarding Powder Post Beetles

http://www2.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef616.asp

I looked at thermal remediation methods, which were fine with me as they didn't involve poisons.

Kiln drying is one approach. I did not choose this approach due to lack of access to a kiln or similar apparatus. I considered using covered disposable aluminum pans and (relatively) low heat on my gas grill but the number of batches required and gas consumption weren't conducive to me personally trying to make a backyard approach to kiln drying. And my kitchen oven was only briefly considered as this would have major impacts on the "What are you doing now?!?" stuff from the wife as well a likely making the house have a hickory bouquet so the impacts of how it might affect others wasn't worth even trying for me.

Cold treatment was the other thermal option and was the route I took. I set my freezer to its lowest setting, -6°F, to be conservative and would cycle batches of hickory splits and rounds through the freezer every 10 days or so, again being conservative. This worked like a charm for me! I still have a small amount of that hickory left in my hickory cooking wood box with no more signs of frass or other insect activity to this day. This approach had minimal cost (electricity for the freezer) and zero hassle for me. My splits and rounds I treated with this approach were about 4" thick at their thickest points. Thicker pieces would logically be worth extending the residence time and / or further reducing the temperature.

Here's a University of Kentucky article on this approach. This was the article I used to set my methodology.

http://www2.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef640.asp

I did not put any of the wood I treated this way in any sort of bags. I didn't see a down side for not having the wood bagged while it was in my freezer, but it should be noted I devoted the bottom half of my freezer for this treatment. Nothing from the wood could drop on anything else in my freezer this way.

There are other suggestions from various sources for different residence times and / or other temperatures, but this approach is what worked for me. There are other articles that say cold treatment is not effective on the eggs, even at temperatures down to -45°. All I know is what I've seen for my results over a year's time after treatment.

During this process, I would use untreated wood for cook sessions, which as Big Orson noted, is one way of dealing with at least some of the wood affected by this issue.

An approach I didn't take but would also be effective would be to make homemade lump charcoal out of the affected wood, as an extreme end approach to thermal mitigation. This would yield a product free of risks of re-infestation but wouldn't give the same effect as cooking with wood. And running a retort in my current neighborhood with a HOA would absolutely be unwise.
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whiskers57
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Joined: 13 Dec 2013
Posts: 54
Location: South centeral Ky.

PostPosted: Fri Aug 08 14 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks BigOrson and necron 99, I didn't know about using it in the smoker with the beetle larva still in the wood. If it won't affect the cook/flavor in any way, I'll go ahead and use it. I know not to use any kind of chemical on the wood. I'll see if I can kill them out somehow, maybe just seperate it and use it quickly!!!
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PaulOinMA
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Joined: 06 Jul 2006
Posts: 958
Location: Marlborough, MA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 15 14 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As posted, I wouldn't worry about it.

A friend that had an orchard years ago told me that apple cider will show trace amounts of protein. Apples don't contain protein. Very Happy
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