Woodworm treatment advice

12 March 2013

In the last week or so we have seen an increase in people contacting Timberwise for advice on how woodworm treatment is carried out – a sure sign that the woodworm season is upon us again! Traditionally the season for woodworm beetles to fly is in spring, roughly from March to May – this is when the adult beetle emerges from the timber to find a mate. To help understand woodworm we have compiled a few of the most common questions (along with the answers) we get asked by property owners about this seasonal pest!

What are woodworm?

Woodworm is a generic term that is used to commonly describe the larvae stage of all wood boring beetles. The most common beetle in the UK is known as the Common Furniture Beetle, however, there are various other beetles which can make a nuisance of themselves. Other types include Powder Post Beetle, Wood Boring Weevil, Death Watch Beetle and House Longhorn Beetle.

What do woodworm look like?

Woodworm larvae are ordinarily a creamy white colour with curved shaped bodies. It is very rare to see woodworm larvae as they stay within the timber feeding until fully grown. Only when they exit the timber as a beetle do you see the familiar holes in the timber that are a tell tale sign of woodworm. Adult wood boring beetles vary in appearance depending on the species. The most common beetle found in the UK is the Common Furniture Beetle which is a brown winged beetle of around 3-4mm in length.

How do I know if I have woodworm?

It isn’t easy always obvious that you have an issue with an active woodworm infestation as the bulk of the damaged caused by woodworm is within the timber and not visible to the naked eye. There are though a few common signs that can help you identify a possible woodworm problem:

    • Actual exit holes are perhaps one of the most obvious signs of a woodworm issue. You may see adult beetles emerging from their holes (commonly known as ‘exit holes’) these are small holes similar in size to holes in a dart board. These holes vary in size depending on the species of beetle.
    • Beetles may be visible about the property.
    • You may also come across what looks like fine powdery sawdust near the exit holes. This dust, known as ‘frass’, is made as a result of the beetle exiting the timber.
    • Sometimes, although exit holes may not be visible, you may find ‘frass’ underneath wooden furniture – this also may suggest a woodworm problem. However, it may also be a sign of a previous infestation that is long since dormant and as a result maybe nothing to worry about. This is where the opinion of a woodworm specialist is needed.

During the warmer summer months (Between May to October is known as Woodworm Season) it is sometimes possible to spot the adult beetles making their way out into the open having made their way through the final thin layer of wood into the open.

This useful short film gives more useful information about woodworm in general:

Where can woodworm be found?

Woodworm can be found in any housing timbers, furniture or in wooden outbuildings. Infact, anywhere in a property where there are exposed timbers. As timber accounts for anywhere up to 70% of the fabric of a house woodworm can cause serious problems.

How do woodworm get into a property?

Woodworm can gain access into any property through open doors and windows, air vents and even gaps in the eves.

Why is woodworm such a problem?

The woodworm larvae feed on the cellulose within the wood leaving behind a network of tunnels that can cause significant damage to the structure of the timber within the property. Dependent upon the level of woodworm infestation, it may result in the structural timbers of a property losing structural integrity if woodworm treatment is not carried out to put a stop to the life cycle of the beetles.

What is the life cycle of the woodworm?

The lifecycle of woodworm has four stages – Egg, larva, pupa and finally adult beetle.

      • The woodworm life cycle begins starts with the adult beetle looking for somewhere safe to leave its eggs. This could be on a door or window frame, the end of a timber beam or timbers within an attic space – anywhere where the timber is exposed. Here the female beetle will lay her eggs into the timber.
      • Once the eggs hatch, the larvae will burrow its way down into the wood where they can spend anything up to three years or more eating their way up and down the timber. This is where the woodworm cause the most damage.
      • Eventually, the woodworm forms a pupal chamber, this is when they transform into an adult beetle.
      • The beetles then eat their way out of the wood in order to breed and start the whole process again.

What action should I take if I suspect a woodworm problem?

It is recommended that a professional survey is carried out to identify the woodworm infestation and locations and how urgent is the need for a solution. Only once the extent of the woodworm infestation is known can an appropriate course of woodworm treatment can be suggested. The surveyor will be able to identify the species that are causing the damage, as well as identify if the infestation is active or not. To arrange a woodworm survey complete our-online woodworm survey request form.

Further advice on woodworm

For further information about woodworm, visit our woodworm web page for additional help and advice. Alternatively, contact your local Timberwise team on 0800 288 8660 for helpful advice or to arrange a survey. You can also have a look at Property Workshop site for more advice about woodworm treatment.