Ask the Expert: Cicadas, Bed bugs, Beetles and Bamboo Floors


August 10, 2013

Q: I’m preparing to treat a vacant house for bed bugs and am going to dust voids and apply a residual spray. I was thinking about installing dichlorvos strips for a week. Is that a good idea, and if so, how long should I aerate the house afterward? T.P., Ark.
A: The strips are a good idea because the house will be vacant. Install warning signs on the exterior to make people aware they shouldn’t enter. The aeration period should be at least four hours but ideally a day.

Q: A customer has a 6-year-old bamboo floor, and beetle emergence holes and frass are apparent. The holes are smaller than I’ve seen with bamboo borer infestations. Where do you think the infestation originated? Should we sand the floors and treat them with a borate, or is fumigation called for? K.M., Conn.
A: Sometimes beetle infestations appear only after several years because, as the wood dries, the growth rate of the larvae slows. This is typical of anobiid infestations, which often emerge four to five years after the floor is installed even though they typically have a one-year life cycle. I’d guess this infestation began in the flooring before it was installed.

Because most bamboo floors are engineered and not 100 percent bamboo, the beetles are most likely anobiids living in the pine matrix beneath the bamboo. These engineered floors have a thin veneer on the visible surface, so sanding them might go through the bamboo, ruining the floor. Furthermore, a borate treatment will eliminate the infestation, but additional emergence might occur before the infestation is gone and the homeowner will be unhappy.

Leave the floor alone because the infestation will die on its own. The alternative is to fumigate, but who will pay the bill? Although I believe the wood was infested before installation, it will be difficult to prove after six years, so the flooring supplier would probably fight it.

Q: This is the year a major brood of cicadas in our area emerged. Is there anything we can do to help customers deal with these pests? As I remember, the last time this happened, the insects were crawling up the sides of houses and littering the sidewalks. Do cicadas do any damage? J.O., N.J.
A: Stopping cicadas from emerging is like trying to stop a hoard of locusts (grasshoppers). They live underground for 17 years and feed on sap from tree roots. Treating the soil around a customer’s house probably wouldn’t stop emergence because these big insects could burrow through an insecticide barrier. Even if you could stop them from emerging on your customer’s property, they’ll fly in from neighboring properties. The adults only live for a few days, but new adults emerge every day. There’s not much you can do but live through it.

Cicadas don’t bite. The females crawl out toward the ends of tree branches and make slits in the branch ends in which to lay eggs. Often, the small branch ends break off because of the slits, but that doesn’t cause significant damage to the tree unless it’s a fruit tree and you’re dropping blossoms. pmp

You can reach Dr. Mampe, an industry consultant, at

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