Although you might not have seen very much of these wood-boring insects – more commonly known as woodworms – you’ve most probably seen signs of their unwanted presence in your home!
Woodworm beetles do not attack humans but may cause significant damage to your home. If left untreated, woodworm infestations may compromise the structural integrity of a property. If you’re dealing with these unwanted intruders, then this handy guide has everything you need to know about woodworms and woodworm treatment! No matter how large the issue, we’ve got it covered!
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What are woodworms?
Despite the name, you might be surprised to find that woodworm isn’t a type of ‘worm’ at all.
Instead, it is the common name used for the larvae stage of a woodworm life cycle, where the insects look maggot or worm-like in appearance. It is also the generic name given to the infestation of wood.
Adult beetles lay eggs on wooden surfaces. Spaces, where the moisture content is high, are especially vulnerable. A woodworm infestation may be particularly noticeable in areas with high moisture content, including loft timbers. They may also burrow into floorboards. This is because these beetles are accustomed to eating decaying wood in forests.
Once hatched, these larvae will live happily inside the wood for up to five years. After this time, they each turn into an adult beetle and burrow out of their home, leaving behind distinctive holes in the surface of the wood.
What does a woodworm infestation look like?
Each woodworm infestation is unique and may look different depending on the type and density of the wood.
These wood-boring insects spend the majority of their lives as woodworm larvae, hidden within the infested wood.
Typically, adult beetles lay eggs on or beneath the surface of the wood. When hatched, the grubs feed on the wood, eventually pupating and laying more eggs. If left untreated, woodworm can cause both cosmetic and structural damage.
Sometimes, infestations only become apparent once the adult beetles begin to leave their homes, leaving small exit holes behind them. Typically, holes are between 1-1.5mm in diameter. The size of the hole depends on the species of beetle. Holes may have powder (known as frass), surrounding them.
To combat woodworm, we advise regularly checking the wooden surfaces and furniture in your home. It is imperative that woodworm infections are dealt with swiftly to avoid irreparable structural damage to your property.
If exit holes are apparent, the pests have likely already caused damage to the inside of your wooden loft timbers or furniture. Immediate action to prevent further damage is crucial.
The Main Signs of Woodworm Damage
Even if you haven’t noticed signs of woodworms, it is important to regularly check the condition of the wooden surfaces, structures, decking and furniture in your home. Look out for sudden decay in structural timbers. Decay may have been caused by moisture or strain, but could also be indicative of a woodworm infestation.
As soon as you notice decay in the wood, you should call a specialist. Regardless of whether the damage is caused by woodworm or not, damage to your home’s structural supports can reduce the value of your property or even put you and your family in danger.
If it’s furniture and not timber that you’re concerned about – you’re in luck. Woodworm in furniture is much easier to spot – so keep an eye out for any sawdust-like substances collecting around your wooden belongings. Sawdust is left behind when the adult beetles break free from the wood. Sawdust collection is a sign of an active infestation and could mean that furniture larvae have made their home within the furniture.
This sawdust is produced when the adult woodworm exits through emergence holes. It’s often a sign of an active infestation and could mean you already have furniture larvae inside the piece of furniture.
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What are the main types of woodworm?
Common Furniture Beetle
As the name suggests, this is the most common kind of woodworm in the UK, and they mostly attack softwood timber.
They have a life cycle that lasts around 6 weeks – so they have very rapid reproduction rates, which is what allows them to spread quickly.
Wood-Boring Weevils are brown and black in colour, and generally grow up to about 5mm long. They have antennae and a distinctive snout. Wood-Boring Weevils attack both hardwood and softwood. Any wood which is damp with previous decay is vulnerable. Fewer than 4% of attacks can be attributed to Wood-Boring Weevils, but they are most prevalent in London.
Powder Post Beetle
Powder Post Beetles are around 5mm long and usually reddish-brown. Originally from sub-tropical regions, Powder Post Beetles were imported to the UK in wood from around the world. Powder Post Beetles attack hardwood. Adult beetles normally emerge from wood between May and September.
Death Watch Beetle
This kind of woodworm isn’t quite as deadly as their name suggests – but they’re a lot harder to treat.
The conditions these beetles thrive in are not particularly common inside homes – they love damp, rotting timber.
The Death Watch Beetle also has a much longer life span than the Common Furniture Beetle. Whilst this prevents them from reproducing rapidly and spreading widely – it means they spend more time living inside your wooden surfaces and causing structural weakening.
House Longhorn Beetle
If you believe you’re dealing with the House Longhorn Beetle – do not attempt to treat it yourself.
It’s essential to seek professional advice, and enlist a woodworm treatment specialist to help you. House Longhorn Beetles are usually found in the south of England and infect the sapwood of most softwoods, particularly roofing timbers. The holes left by the House Longhorn Beetle are much bigger than those left by the Common Furniture Beetle.
Are woodworms expensive to remove?
This will largely depend on the size of your infestation, and the type of wood boring beetle you’re dealing with.
If you have a small infestation of Common Furniture Beetles, you may be able to get rid of the problem using cheap DIY solutions, such as woodworm killer.
However, if you’re dealing with a more serious issue, or believe your property contains a House Longhorn infestation – you should enlist woodworm treatment specialists to help you.
We offer personalised solutions for different types of infestation and will remove the problem whilst keeping you, your family and your property safe.
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If your woodworm infestation is minor, you may be able to treat it yourself with DIY treatments. Common Furniture Beetles, for example, can be treated with a brush, dip or spray application of Permethrin, Cypermethrin or other insecticides. With larger woodworm infestations or House Longhorn Beetle infestations, we advise seeking professional advice from a pest control company.
After the initial treatment is complete, it is recommended that you keep a careful watch of any problem areas for at least a decade to prevent re-infestation.
The level of your treatment will depend on whether the issue was surface level or deeper into the core of the timber.
Woodworm is usually caused by high moisture content in timber. High moisture content often results from poor ventilation.