Lifecycle of the Woodworm
17 March 2008
The Stages of 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:
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 anywhere 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 whereas 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. The second image 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”.
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