A Pile of Dust

My wife and I had an interesting experience this 4th of July holiday weekend and it all began with a pile of dust.

In the entry way of our cozy little apartment we have (or more accurately, had) this beautiful mirror, shelf, coat-rack combination that we purchased from Pottery Barn. It was possibly one of my favorite pieces of furniture in our home. We would keep incoming and outgoing mail on the shelf, hang our keys on the hooks, and check our selves out in the mirror before we left our home each day. It was both beautiful and functional.

The other day I came home, hung up my keys, and noticed a pile of dust sitting on the shelf. Immediately above that pile was a tiny little hole approximately 2-3 millimeters in diameter. Puzzled by this odd sight I called Erin over to look. It was then that we first saw the culprit. At the time we did not know what it was, but we began prodding at it with sharp objects in an attempt to kill this demonic presence in our piece of furniture. At one point we watched it crawl completely past the whole. It was then that we knew A, we were dealing with a bigger bug than we originally thought, and B, that this hole in our furniture was actually a quite extensive passageway.

So, we did what anyone else would do, we continued to poke and prod it until we assumed we had killed it. It was then Erin began her exhaustive research to determine where this bug came from and what it was doing in our furniture. My worry was that it had been introduced to our apartment a day earlier when we carried an old wooden bench through our living room to our patio. Thankfully, Erin’s research proved that was not the case.

The Powderpost Beetle infests living or freshly cut wood and burrows its way in to lay eggs. These eggs hatch 1-5 years later usually between the months of April and July and the freshly hatched beetles then dig their way out to infest more wood and lay more eggs. It’s a vicious cycle. Furthermore, they do not attack painted or treated woods so the only logical explanation was that this beetle was not something we had introduced into our home by way of an old bench. It was something that was in the wood when Pottery Barn assembled our mirror in their factory.

Satisfied with the information we had gathered that evening we went to bed. The next morning I was surprised, however, to see more dust piling up on our shelf. The bug was still alive, after all that poking. So, we resumed pestering the pest with a vengeance. I thought we could attack it better, perhaps, with a safety pin since it was rather narrow and would easily fit into the hole. After no luck with that we were about to give up and seek other methods of death when that dang bug poked its head out of the hole. Angry and slightly bothered that it would dare poke its head out, I took a pair of scissors in hand and cut off its little head. We brushed the head onto the floor where its antenna continued to move for hours.

After talking it over we decided that we needed to take the piece back to Pottery Barn since we weren’t sure if there were other beetles that might hatch and dig their way out to infest more of our furniture. So, armed with our research and the bugs head in a plastic bag we marched into Pottery Barn. As it turned out, none of our information was necessary and the employees there believed us with very few questions asked. The only issue was that our particular piece had been discontinued so all they could offer us was a full refund. Saddened that we had to give up one of our favorite pieces of furniture, but glad that we would no longer have to deal with Powderpost Beetles we thanked the employees for their help and accepted the full refund.

Who’d have thought that a little pile of dust would signal the beginning of such a series of events, or mean that we’d be left with two anchored bolts in our wall and no place to hang our keys?

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