What is Woodworm?

Woodworm is a collective term used to describe a wide variety of wood-boring insects that attack wood and timber, as a result causing structural damage in buildings.

There are a number of wood-boring insects that attack timber in properties in the UK with the most common being the ‘Common Furniture Beetle’ (or to give its official name Anobium Punctatum) that attacks softwood.

Identifying which type of woodworm beetle is present through a survey is extremely important as this determines what type of treatment is required to getting rid of the woodworm from the property.

Is Having a Woodworm Infestation a serious issue?

The damage a wood boring insect can cause to your property can vary dependent on the size of the infestation, the type of beetle and where the infestation has taken place. For example, woodworm beetles found in furniture can be completely different to the level of infestation and seriousness if found in timbers that provide the structural integrity of the building.

Not all woodworm is harmful to your property but if left untreated for a long period of time this can be serious a problem when the woodworm infestation starts to weaken the timber and cause damage to its structure. The most damaging species is the House Longhorn Beetle, however, all types of serious infestation should be checked by a property care professional with CSRT qualifications.

Types of Woodworm Beetles that could be attacking your property

Common Furniture beetle (Anobium punctatum):

The most common of the woodworm beetles. It small dark reddish brown beetle between 3mm – 5mm in length. Looking at the insect the head appears to be hidden as it is held low, and there is a ‘hump’ on the thorax. There are rows of regular pits running down its wing covers.


This insect is by far the most common cause of damage encountered. It attacks sapwood of softwood and European hardwoods. The attack is most severe in damp and fast grown timbers.

  • - Round holes approximately 1.5 - 2mm in diameter.
  • - Tendency for tunnels to run with grain.
  • - A pin will only pass down tunnel a short length.
  • - Short dust (frass) filled tunnels with lemon shaped frass pellets. Frass feels ‘gritty’ between fingers.
  • - The active attack can be seen by small piles of frass on upper surfaces and frass running down the side of timber on vertical surfaces.

Deathwatch beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum):

Chocolate brown insect around 8mm in length, with a variegated appearance due to the presence of patches of yellowish hairs. Very likely to end the beetles during the emergence period – mid-March to the end of June and may be extended during a long hot summer.


The wood attacked is virtually always hardwood with some degree of decay, and the wood is usually oak. However, Deathwatch beetle will attack softwood, if well-rotted and in contact with infested hardwood.

House Longhorn Beetle (Hylotrupes bajulus)

This insect is specifically localised to the south-east of England, and it is larger than most woodworm beetles at 15-20mm in length and it has a black to dark brown colour.


The House Longhorn beetle attacks the sapwood of softwood and can potentially cause severe structural damage to properties.


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Woodworm Surveyor

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Robert Pool

Remedial Surveyor CSRT
North West

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Identifying The Woodworm Problem

An attack from a wood boring insect can present itself in many forms, depending on where they are in the lifecycle.

Small exit holes

A clear indicator of woodworm is small round exit holes in the timber, they can vary in size depending on the species of the beetle.

Fine powder

Another sign that you have a live woodworm infestation in your property is the presence of frass being left by the beetle when it exits from the wood. Frass, which is sometimes known as bore dust, is the waste product of the woodworm. The colour of the type of frass depends on the species of woodworm but tends to be light and has a texture similar to fine wood dust.

Weakened Timber

Infested wood is a clear sign that woodworm is causing damage to your property. This could range from weakened floorboards through to crumbling skirting boards. These type of symptoms can be misdiagnosed with dry rot and wet rot so if you are unsure which of these property care issues are causing the damage then it is important to contact a timber preservation specialist.

Having a specialists inspect the timber can avoid unnecessary treatments that may not be appropriate. There are a wide range of species so it’s important that the identification of a woodworm is done properly. Once our qualified woodworm specialists have provided a full diagnosis of the woodworm outbreak, they can then specify the most effective treatment.

Dealing with wood boring insects is a delicate and careful procedure, making sure the whole area is effectively treated.

We need to make sure the whole procedure is correctly managed, from the preparation of the area to the spraying of the Timber.

Woodworm Treatment Spray Carried Out By Technician

The Life Cycle of Woodworm

You may be surprised to learn that woodworm has a three year life cycle from entering the wood and laying their eggs, to the insect eating away at the wood and eventually leaving the surface via an exit hole. The life cycle of the wood boring beetle is normally always near completion before most property owners are even aware they have a problem.

Woodworm Lifecycle

What Does Woodworm Look Like?

There is a whole host of different types of woodworm and it takes a trained eye to identify them. Making sure we know which type of beetle we are treating is essential to leaving you with a wood boring beetle free property. Beetles come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. We have put together a guide all about what does woodworm look like.

What Does Woodworm Look Like

How To Get Rid Of Woodworm?

Before any treatment can be carried out on your property, identifying the type of woodworm beetle is an important stage of the treatment process and this should be carried out by a specialist.

It is essential to treat the affected timber and start eliminating the infestation as soon as possible, otherwise, you risk allowing the situation to deteriorate to the point where wood and timbers become weakened and their structural integrity is compromised.

Woodworm Treatments applied

To treat common furniture beetle, a permethrin based woodworm treatment is used. This will be applied by a skilled and trained technician on the timber and on any timbers that are close by, to ensure that no future outbreaks will occur. Once the treatment has been applied onto the timber all painted and varnished timbers will have to be redecorated.

With death watch beetles, they tend to occur deep within the timber so the treatment needs to be applied both on the surface of timber and also by using an injection woodworm treatment into the exit holes which have been left the adult beetles. This procedure should be carried out by a professional who is qualified in carrying out such treatments.

If a House Longhorn beetle is found affecting your property then consulting a specialist such as Timberwise is the best course of action. It will not only be the timber affected by the beetle that will need to be treated but all other of timbers within the building will need to be checked.

The building will also need to be checked for its structural integrity. If there is no structural damage found and the size of infestation is relatively small then the same treatments and methods already discussed for the death watch beetle will be carried out. Having a survey from a specialist CSRT surveyor will be able to determine the best course of action.

Technician using woodworm treatment on the affected timber
Woodworm in the 3rd stage of the lifecycle
Wood boring insect causing damage to the timber

How To Prevent Woodworm

Woodworm itself is almost unpreventable due to the nature and living habits of the woodworm. However, there are a couple of tips we can provide that can help keep them away

Firstly, make sure any firewood is kept outdoors. Bringing wood from outdoors and leaving it within your property could be bringing in a live infestation into the home.

Secondly, wood boring weevils are attracted to damp and moist timber or wood. So making sure your property is dry and fully protected from the elements will also help keep these creatures at bay!

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to have an infestation, once the woodworm treatment spray has been complete, this solution remains active for over 20 years, acting as a preventative for any future potential infestations.

Outwood Wood

Having Woodworm Specialist Inspect Your Property

If you suspect that have you may have woodworm infestation in your property then it is important to contact a property care professional, with a CSRT qualification. Woodworm beetles can be a serious problem if left untreated for a long period of time. Depending on the type of beetle, structural damage is the likely outcome so it is best to get it treated sooner rather than later.

You can contact Timberwise woodworm specialists by calling 0800 288 8660 or you can request a survey online.

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