Woodworm is the generic name given to the larvae of a number of different wood-boring beetles found in the UK.
The most common of these in Scotland is the common furniture beetle, or Anobium punctatum.
The larvae tunnel into the timbers of a house and emerge as adult beetles to search for a mate between April and October.
The adult beetle measures around 2.7–4.5 mm. As it is so small it can easily get into houses and establish a presence undetected.
Even if you kept all your windows and doors sealed completely shut for 7 months, your home could still become infected by these beetles entering the roof space via the eaves or ventilation spaces elsewhere on your property.
The damage they do can be devastating, and can pose serious risks to the structural integrity of a house.
Much of the problem arises because the larvae will bore through the inside of timbers for anywhere up to 5 years, following the seams of digestible cellulose inside the wood.
They burrow invisibly and undetected, before emerging to find a mate and lay more eggs.
When a larva pupates and emerges, it leaves a small exit hole of between 1 to 1.5 mm diameter and a small pile of faeces, known as frass.
This is the first visible evidence of an infestation. As the larvae eat only the cellulose in the wood, the frass is basically sawdust.
By the time the frass and the small exit holes are noticed, the larvae have already been chewing on the inside of timbers for years and may have caused serious damage. If they have infested structural timber the effects could be dangerous. This means that as soon as any visible evidence is noted it is essential to take action.
There are two things to bear in mind at this point.
Firstly, the adult beetles have now emerged to find a mate and will then lay more eggs. These are often, though not always, laid in the exit holes that they have just emerged from. So, it is crucial to treat the visibly affect timbers.
Secondly, other timbers in the property are now at risk, as the egg-bearing woodworm flying around your house looking for a nice place to lay their eggs may choose fresh timber to infect.
Woodworm – Signs of infestation
- Small round holes in your woodwork similar to the holes in a dart board.
- Fine, powdery dust around these holes (frass).
- Crumbly edges to boards and joists.
- Adult beetles emerging from the holes or present around the house. The beetles die soon after mating, so look out for dead beetles on windowsills, etc.
- Even if you can’t see any holes, you might also find frass escaping from the back or underside of old furniture. Again, this suggests active woodworm.
There is little you can do to prevent an attack of woodworm, because, as we have previously noted, the beetles are too small to keep out of your house.
However, there is evidence that all wood-boring beetles prefer to infect damp timber, basically because it is easier to chew!
Therefore, keeping your home well ventilated and centrally heated could be a help.
Conversely, if you do identify a woodworm infestation, it may be an indicator of an underlying moisture problem in your home: leaking plumbing; rain ingress in a roof space, inadequate ventilation in an area of condensation, for example.
Treatment can range from an application of the appropriate chemical pesticides to replacement of affected timbers, if they have been seriously weakened.
It goes without saying that you should only entrust treatment to qualified professionals.
Accurate diagnosis of the infestation, its extent and the appropriate remedy is essential to ensure effective resolution of the problem, as is a thorough examination of any structural timbers that may be affected.
If you suspect you have an infestation of woodworm, contact us at LC Joinery, Roofing and Building Work.
We will conduct a professional woodworm survey to establish the extent of the problem.
Our personnel operate equipment that can identify the presence of any wood boring insect even with timbers that are not exposed.
Once the extent and severity of any woodworm infestation is known, an appropriate course of woodworm treatment can be recommended.
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