Signs of wood boring insects infestation in timber beam

What is a Wood boring insect?

17 August 2020

A frequently asked question from many home buyers that have received a home buyers reports is “what is a wood boring insect?” This is a common term mentioned within many a home buyers reports that also suggests that “a survey is carried out to identify the presence of wood boring insects”.

Definition of a Wood Boring Insect

So, what exactly is a wood-boring insect? A wood boring insect is a common term that covers many species of beetles that as larvae eat and destroy timbers.

Wood boring insects are usually found in areas within a property that are poorly ventilated with a high humidity such as for example a sub floor crawl space. This is usually because these conditions become perfect for the larvae to hibernate and transform into a woodworm beetle.

Why Do Wood Boring Insects Attack Timber?

wood boring insect

Wood boring insects, just like wood rotting fungi, attack only occur when dampness is affecting your property. Wood borers tend to attack sapwood however, heartwood is susceptible from being attacked as well. There are cases where death watch beetles can attack dry timbers where the old flight holes have been dislodged.

Signs of Insect Infestation

Spotting signs of a wood boring insects can be a difficult task and if not spotted earlier enough, can stay hidden between 3-5 years depending on the beetle. The typical signs of a woodworm beetle are: The exit holes of the timber, dust created by the woodworm will left on the wood, tunnels will be left where they have been eating through the timber.

What are the Different Types of Wood Boring Beetles?

There are many different types of beetles are the most common beetles found in a property is a common furniture beetle which infests softwoods. This wood boring insect can be found in most properties across the UK. This beetle does not cause structural damage however, it does consume the sap wood edges.

The female insect lays the eggs inside the cracks of the timber and these will hatch within a few weeks. The larva will mature into a woodworm beetle over 3-4 years boring its way through the wood.

The Deathwatch Beetle is the 2nd most common infestation in the UK. This one of the worst wood boring beetles that can affect your property. Deathwatch beetles attack timbers that have a moisture content of over 14%.

This beetle will be found in particular buildings where there is dampness or there are water leaks. Infesting hardwood timbers it can cause structural damage as it can consume the core of the timber. The life cycle of this beetle is between 8-10 years.

House Longhorn beetle

House Longhorn Beetle is the most devastating beetle; however, it is limited to usually the county of Surrey. This type of wood boring insect attacks the whole core of the timbers if not dealt with in the early stages and if found it is reported to the BRE.

This beetle is often found in new homes and attacks younger timber. The life cycle is particularly long compared to the insects of 10 years, this does depend on the surrounding environment.

The Wood Boring Weevil is a common species found in wet timber and often discovered in joist ends that are suffering from dampness.

How to Get Rid of Wood Boring Infestation?

The first step to getting rid of wood boring beetles from your property is to treat the causes of the damp problem as predominately dry timber is immune from attack. The aim of a woodworm treatment specialist would be to reduce the moisture content to below 15%.

If the damage to the timber is severe then it may need replacing. A chemical woodworm treatment can be used to target the insects inside the wood directly. This kills the woodworm as they exit the wood.

Contact a Specialist

If you believe your property is suffering from a woodworm infestation or you have received a home buyers report stating there may be a potential problem, with wood boring insects speak to one our experts for advice or to arrange a survey.

For further information on wood boring insects and our pre-purchase damp & timber surveys see our Damp & Timber page.

Our surveyors are PCA registered and are able to confirm if there is a live infestation and identify the type of beetle that has infested the property as well as finally determine the best treatment moving forward. To arrange a survey contact an expert on 0800 288 8660 or complete our on-line survey request form.