European house borer

Alert

Have you seen European house borer?

Be on the lookout and report it.

Under Queensland legislation if you suspect the presence of European house borer, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

European house borer (EHB) is present in Western Australia. Restrictions are in place to stop the spread of this pest to other Australian states.

A biosecurity certificate is required to bring timber into Queensland from Western Australia, or other states or territories where European house borer has been found. Pinewood pallets managed under the Western Australian Compliance Arrangement for Manufacture of Pinewood Pallets and Packaging can be introduced into Queensland without certification.

European house borer (Hylotrupes bajulus or EHB) is a destructive pest of untreated seasoned pine (Pinus spp.) and Oregon (Douglas fir – Pseudotsuga spp.) timber that is being used for construction and furniture, etc.

European house borer can cause major structural damage to buildings. Overseas, infestations of this pest are most commonly found in pine roofing timbers.

Scientific name

Hylotrupes bajulus

Cause

European house borer, also known as Hylotrupes bajulus, is a wood boring beetle that attacks timber in use. Damage is caused by the beetle's larvae.

Other names

  • House longhorn beetle
  • Old house borer

Description

Adults

  • Robust longhorn beetles that are dark grey-brown to black in colour.
  • Look slightly flattened.
  • Have 2 raised shiny knobs on their back, just behind their heads.
  • About 8–25mm long with antennae about half that length (see image above).

Larvae

  • Similar in appearance to native longicorn beetle larvae, EHB larvae are rarely seen as they are hidden in tunnels (galleries) in the wood.
  • Creamy white in colour with a rippled body and enlarged head.
  • Can grow up to 4cm in length.

Plant stage and plant parts affected

  • Seasoned coniferous timber (timber in service), waste plantation log offcuts and stumps, and dead branches on living pine trees.

Damage

The beetle larvae bore into timber, damaging it from within. Localised reinfestation can occur, weakening the integrity of buildings and leading to structural collapse.

May be confused with

An expert is needed to identify European house borer from native borers. If you have found a suspect timber borer, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Distribution

Found in Europe, the Middle East (Turkey), South America, North and South Africa, China and Asia Minor.

It was first detected in Perth, Western Australia (WA), in 2004 and is under official control as it was found to be not technically feasible to eradicate.

European house borer is subject to a containment program in WA. Restrictions are in place to prevent the spread of European house borer to other parts of WA and to other Australian states and territories.

Hosts

Timber, specifically seasoned, untreated coniferous timber.

  • Exotic pine (Pinus spp.)
  • Douglas fir (Pseudotsugata spp.; also known as Oregon)
  • Spruce (Picea spp.)

Potentially also larch (Larix spp.) and hoop and bunya pines (Araucaria spp.).

Hardwood is not affected.

Life cycle

  • Adult beetles lay eggs in wood, usually in irregularities in the timber such as cracks, holes or at timber joints.
  • Eggs hatch after 12–16 days.
  • Larvae can spend from 2–12 years inside timber. In WA, larvae have been reported to spend from 2–5 years in dead pine trees, before emerging as adults.
  • Adult beetles emerge from the timber and live for up to 16 days.

Impacts

European house borer can infest:

  • pine timber including
    • firewood
    • dead branches on live trees
  • untreated pine timber in
    • roof framing, bears, beams, joists and framing
    • architraves
    • door frames
    • roof frames
  • pallets
  • packaging and dunnage
  • pine furniture.

The pest can cause significant damage because they tend to reinfest the same timber until that food source is exhausted. This can result in major structural damage to buildings.

How it is spread

People moving infested timber, including building materials, packaging, pallets, furniture, ornaments and firewood, poses the greatest risk of spread.

Monitoring and action

Inspect untreated structural and non-structural coniferous timber, including timber in buildings (e.g. roofing timber), packaging, furniture, ornaments and firewood.

Look for:

  • adult boring beetles, larvae inside timber and eggs laid in cracks and crevices
  • oval exit holes, about 5–10mm in length
  • long blister like swellings in the wood; tunnelling and chambers
  • frass, a mixture of wood dust and pellets of insect waste material which is usually found below and around an exit hole
  • timber damaged by tunnelling beetle larvae.

Listen for:

  • a soft scraping sound made by the larvae as they feed. This is most likely heard at night, when it is quiet, and can be audible from some distance.

If you suspect European house borer infestation, immediately contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Control

Call 13 25 23 if you find a plant you suspect may be European house borer to seek advice on control options.

Legal requirements

European house borer is prohibited matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Report suspected European house borer to Biosecurity Queensland immediately on 13 25 23 or contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

If you think you have found European house borer, you must take all reasonable and practical steps under your control to minimise any associated risks. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).

European house borer carriers must not enter Queensland unless sourced from a state, or part of a state, that is certified free from European house borer. Otherwise a biosecurity certificate is required.

You need a biosecurity certificate to bring pine timber into Queensland from Western Australia.

Before pine timber is moved into Queensland from Western Australia, it must be either heat treated or fumigated. Refer to the Queensland biosecurity manual (PDF, 1.8MB) for details.

Further information

  • Watch a video on European house borer from the Western Australia Department of Agriculture and Food.