Woodworm

Woodworm is the most common name for the larvae stage of wood boring beetles. This type of beetle is usually found in households from early springtime to mid-autumn. From April to October each year, these seasonal pests can target any home that has exposed untreated timber in the interior or exterior of the home. 

Chances are, your home will be affected by woodworm at some point, as these pests are so small you may not notice their arrival. From fixtures to floor boards, the average home is made up of 70% timber. This is why woodworm is such a common problem for Scottish property owners. 
Woodworm damage
If you are living in Scotland, then your home will most likely be invaded by woodworm beetles. The most common insect to attack timber in property is Anobium punctatum or otherwise known as the “common furniture beetle”. Many homeowners only catch woodworm once the infestation has spread, as they are often overlooked due to their size. Woodworm can fit under door thresholds, windows, fresh air vents, and gaps in the eves of your home. 

It is usually fairly easy to see if your home has woodworm damage. Whilst the beetles themselves are fairly elusive, they leave small round holes in the timber where they tunnel through. You’ll also notice dust gathering near and on the timber – this is the result of the boring of the woodwom through the timber. If you notice weak and damaged flooring this could be a form of woodworm damage. Be sure to get in touch with us to provide woodworm treatment before the woodworm manages to inflict so much damage that the floor collapses. 

Different Types of Woodworm

There is actually no such thing as a ‘woodworm’ – it is a blanket term which applies to a range of different insect species. In their larval state, they eat wood – which isn’t great for any property. Here are the main four species:
Common Furniture Beetle
The common furniture beetle is the most common of all woodworm species and is responsible for as much as 75% of all attacks in property. The common furniture beetle attacks the sapwood of softwood and hardwood. The damage they inflict is identifiable as round holes which are approximately 2mm in diameter. They create short dust (frass) filled tunnels with lemon shaped frass pellets. This frass which has collected should feel gritty between your fingers.

House Longhorn Beetle 
The House Longhorn Beetle is typically found in roofing timbers of the southern Home Counties; this type of woodworm is the largest and also the most damaging. A House Longhorn Beetle attacks the sapwood of soft wood, like the common furniture beetle. The House Longhorn Beetle will create large, truly oval shaped holes (not round holes cut at an angle). It also creates lots of very loose frass with readily visible ‘sausage’ shaped pellets. 
Woodworm beatles
The House Longhorn Beetle creates severe internal damage with lots of frass; tunnels truly oval and tend to coalesce. The surface of the wood often remains as a thin sound veneer in a severe attack. What should be noted is this type of woodworm is typically restricted to the South East of England. If the House Longhorn Beetle is still active this will require urgent woodworm treatment. 

Wood Boring Weevil
The Wood Boring Weevil is normally found in timber decay. The Wood Boring Weevil will attack rotting softwood and hardwood. The rotting wood and damage from the Wood Boring Weevil will be readily evident. The tunnels dug by this type of woodworm will run along the grain, frequently breaking at the surface. Any clearly identifiable emergence holes are ragged and around 1mm in diameter. The frass created by a Wood Boring Weevil is also gritty and somewhat like that of the Common Furniture Beetle. In order to identify this type of woodworm look at the rot and general damage running along the grain, often breaking at the surface. 

Death Watch Beetle 
The Death Watch Beetle prefers hardwood and causes damage to old buildings such as churches. The damage caused by the Death Watch Beetle looks something like Large Common Furniture Beetle damage. There will be round holes evident which are around 3mm in diameter. There is normally extensive tunnelling evident with this type of woodworm. There are often lots of frass present so give the timber a shake – the frass will typically be ‘bun’ shaped and readily visible to the naked eye. 
The attacked wood in question is normally always hardwood with some degree of decay. However, the Death Watch Beetle will attack softwood if it is well rotted and has been in contact with hardwood. The Death Watch Beetle is not typically seen in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The Stages of Woodworm

There are four stages in a woodworm’s development:
  • Egg- A tiny egg is laid in the cracks and crevices of wooden objects, floodboards and any timber in a property by adult beetles. These eggs are easily missed by the human eye, which is the main reason why woodworm infestation spreads so quickly.
  • Larva – The second stage of their development occurs when the larvae hatch. At this stage, they immediately burrow through the wood, again, making it very hard for them to be seen by home owners or tenants. During this stage, the larva can remain hidden inside the wood, tunnelling and feeding for several years.
  • Pupa – The more larvae consume, the bigger they will grow. As the larva increases in size they become known as Pupa.
  • Adult Beetle – In the final stage of development, Pupa emerge as adult beetles and then begin to mate.
  • Once a woodworm has developed into the adult form, it does not feed and instead, it reproduces. When the beetle begins to mate, the female will start to lay her eggs into cracks or old exist holes which have been created in the wood.
  • The process from there is fairly fast, and the eggs which are produced will hatch after three weeks. The Larvae are then released and are around the size of 1 millimetre. 
Larvae Appearance 
The larvae take a C-shaped insect form and are long and creamy in appearance. For years the larvae continue to feed and can grow up to 7 millimetres. As the larvae are ready to pupate, they will excavate small spaces under the wood surface, a process which can take up to eight weeks. After this stage, an adult beetle will emerge and break through the surface. The break out will make exit holes and dust will begin to spill out, one of the first visible signs of an infestation.

Woodworm Prevention

Woodworm marks
The first step in any pest control is Inspection. Did you know that woodworm only attack seasoned sapwood timber, not live or fresh wood? This type of insect also avoids heartwood timbers.

You may notice when you are looking at your infested areas of wood, that one piece of the timber may be heavily attacked, while another piece may be untouched. This sometimes happens when structures are made from both the heartwood and sapwood part of a tree trunk. 

Infestations are most commonly found in old wooden houses, that are built with untreated timbers. As mentioned, woodworm infestation can be diagnosed when small round exit holes around the size of 1 to 1.5 mm diameter are seen on the outside of the wood. Active infections feature the appearance of new exit holes and fine wood dust may start to appear around the holes.
As woodworm has a 3-year life cycle, timber or timber products bought containing a woodworm infestation, may not manifest holes until years after the timber has been used in the property. Infestation can be tackled by the application of a residual insecticide (known as permethrin) to infected areas. This is a chemical product and should be applied only by professional woodworm treatment contractors. If you are trying to tackle the infection alone, simple aerosol insecticide sprays will only kill the adult, missing the burrowing larvae that lie underneath the surface of the wood. 

Woodworm treatment is only required for active infestations, however, structural damage to the timber could still be present even if the infestation is inactive.

Woodworm / Woodworm Treatment

If you want to fully remove a woodworm infestation from your home, the only option is to hire a professional pest control service that can use the correct chemical insecticides needed, safely. We do also suggest that you investigate any damp problems within your home, as dry wood is not usually affected. If you do have damp within your home, it could become re-infected at a later date. Our team of experts are here to help you through this whole process. Our team can both repair structurally affected timbers as well as clean and treat the surface of the timbers.

Woodworm can be tricky little pests, and you need to make sure that you’ve got all of them. For this reason, we’ll always start with a comprehensive survey to make sure we know the extent of the problem and also determine if the infestation is active. After that it’s a case of getting rid of the woodworm and repairing the damage which they’ve caused. We’ll take care of both aspects of this. Remember, our work is protected by a 30 year guarantee, so there’s no need to worry about future infestation to the treated area.
Woodworm treatment

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