Lifecycle of the Woodworm

March 17, 2008

The Woodworm Lifecycle


For the purpose of this explanation we have made the assumption that the beetle that lands on the timber is a pregnant female:Woodworm Lifecycle

1. The female beetle starts the woodworm lifecycle process by laying her eggs directly into the timber through cracks, crevices and existing flight holes. To protect the eggs they are not left on the surface of the timber.

2. After a few weeks the eggs hatch downwards into the timber and produce larvae – this is the worm stage of the infestation.

3. The worm, or larval stage, carries on for any where between 2 and 5 years. In that time the larvae  eats its way up and down the timbers and causes the structural damage to the timber. It is at this stage in the lifecycle that the frass, or dust, that is associated with woodworm is produced.

4. Towards the end of its lifecycle it forms a pupal chamber where it enlarges the tunnelling towards the surface of the timber and pupates from the larval stage into an adult beetle. The adult beetle then eats its way through the last thin veneer of timber producing the round exit holes that you normally see. From here on in the beetle causes very little further damage to the timber. It is the round exit holes that normally identify timber that has been subjected to beetle infestation.  The females live for between 10 and 14 days where as their male counterparts only live between 3 and 4 days. Once the adult male beetles have emerged from the chamber there sole purpose is to mate with as many female partners in their short lifespan and the lifecycle continues.

A photographic representation of the lifecycle of woodworm can be seen on the right of this page. In the first image, the beetle’s eggs can be seen placed in the end grain of the timber. Image 2 illustrates the larvae or worm stage of the lifecycle, followed by the pupal chamber showing pupating larvae. And finally in the bottom image, the adult Common Furniture Beetle can be seen. As the name suggest this beetle is the most common in the UK and can be identified by its distinguishing features such as its “hooded pro-thorax”

Woodworm – Associated Links

Read about our Woodworm Treatment service

Download our Woodworm Solutions Leaflets

Request a woodworm survey for Woodworm Solutions

View our on-line RIBA CPD Woodworm and fungal decay seminar

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8 Responses to “Lifecycle of the Woodworm”

  1. Paul Gray says:

    Very interesting – I have bought an old French Walnut bed– It has exit hole and is supposed to have been treated – bu in the last few days i have killed about 10 beetles . Somehow they must be coming from the bed! The bed in in an empty room. But i cannot see any dust. I have treated as many of the hole i can see with rentokill – I wonder if this will stop them???

  2. Phil_Lund says:

    Firstly it is important to identify the species of beetle. It may be that they are common furniture beetle but there are other beetles that look similar but live in other things.
    Second,there should be some dust around or below the exit holes, but it is possible that the beetles are emerging somewhere else entirely.
    If you can get some of the beetles posted to our Sherborne office, we can identify them. It is best if they are sent in a small box or they get crushed to nothing!

    Mike Dunn (Surveyor at Timberwise Sherborne)

  3. Bill says:

    We have found about half a dozen of these beetles over the last 2 months definitely woodworm beetles exactly the same as pictures.. Not an infestation. We live in a top flat with 3 levels below. The flat is only 4 years old and our furnitures is all only 2 years old. We are carpeted with thick carpets new 4 years ago. Do these beetles fly and could they be coming from elsewhere? We have an air exchange system to the external walls.

  4. Property Care Expert says:

    Hi Bill, The adult beetles can fly, however they only fly or emerge during flight season which is May, June, July and August. A little before or after depending on weather. In theory, all adult beetles are dead at the moment until emerging next flight season. It may be worthwhile having the air exchange system checked just to make sure to see if that is the cause of the problem.

  5. Bill says:

    Hi! Thank you for that. These have appeared live and it has been over end December and January to now (mid Feb). We live in Devon and it has been a very mils winter, no snow or frosts as yet not like the rest of the UK. Could they be in 4 year old treated rafters in the loft? We have residents below with older furniture, but it is the time of year which mystifies me. I found one yesterday in the bedroom and another today in the hall by the entrance door, both alive and kicking. I have searched the penthouse buut can see no others.

  6. I also live in Devon, again very mild so far this year. Two days ago I noticed frass below an old Victorian school desk. Yesterday, when my brother and I moved it out of the house, we found two live larvae but no live beetles just evidence of dead ones. Many of the holes looked fresh and I am worried that beetles have taken flight inside the house before I noticed the frass and that they ‘re egg laying.
    What action should I take?

  7. Richard says:

    Hello, I have a customer for whom we laid an engineered oak floor 2 years ago and they have called to inform me they have woodworm. Can the larvae survive the kiln drying process used to dry the wood to 6-8%mc?

  8. The type of woodworm that has most likely infested the oak flooring is the Powderpost beetle. This type of beetle will ordinarily attack timbers with moisture content as low as 8%. Therefore, by drying the timbers through a kiln to lower the moisture content may not prove to be a 100% successful way to eradicate the larvae that are within the timber. This blog post will help you further:

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