What's Eating Your Gas Can?
You may suddenly see holes in your plastic gas cans left outside. Some people have noticed holes in gas lines and gas tanks on their mowing equipment. The holes look as if these items have been shot repeatedly with a BB gun. If you look closely at the holes though, you may notice very small black beetles nested in them. These are the cause of the holes, and they are called Camphor Shot borers (Camphor Shoot beetles).
Camphor Shot borers are a type of ambrosia beetle. These beetles normally attack stressed out trees, and not gasoline cans. So what does a stressed out tree have in common with a gas can, you might be thinking? Ethanol. Trees emit chemicals when they become stressed or are injured. This triggers beetles and other pests to attack the tree. In the case of the Camphor Shot borer, they seem to be mostly attracted to alcohols. Much of the unleaded gas we have contains an alcohol called ethanol. The beetle can't tell the alcohol in the gas can from chemicals emitted by a tree, so they dig on in!
These beetles are usually most active in the months of March through June, so what can you do in the meantime to protect your gas cans from them? Basically, you will need to place the cans inside, or cover them with something to impede the beetles' attack. These beetles feed on a large range of trees, so chemical treatments are not advised.