What Does Woodworm Look Like?

We often get asked to explain what woodworm looks like as many of our customers are not sure whether they have an infestation of woodworm or not. The obvious way to identify a woodworm beetle issue is by looking at what we call ‘exit holes’ in any wood or timber. These holes are just a few millimeters in diameter and are easily visible.

However, just because there are holes present, doesn’t mean you have a current (or live) infestation. It may be that the woodworm left long ago leaving the damage behind, but this still could mean that the timber has been left weakened and potentially dangerous.

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Accredited to

Jason Wakefield

Remedial Surveyor and Waterproofing Specialist CSRT CSSW
South East

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Got a Woodworm problem? Call 0800 288 8660 or

Signs of Woodworm Beetle in Your Property

One of the most unfortunate parts of a woodworm infestation is that the signs of the problem are only visible at the end of the woodworm’s lifecycle. This is when the woodworm beetle breaks free from within the timber to continue its breeding. The signs to look out for are what we call exit holes. These holes in the wood or timber can be between 2 and 5 mm in diameter meaning they can often only be spotted up close, unless there is a large infestation and many exit holes together.

As well as the exit holes, there is a second way to identify a woodworm infestation. This is through the presence of frass. Frass is a dust created by woodworm. The frass or woodworm dust is light in colour and looks almost like very fine wood shavings. This frass is essentially woodworm waste and it can be this waste that can help us identify what type of woodworm beetle is present. For example… the frass produced by the wood-boring weevil is ‘sticky’ to the touch as a result of there being moisture present.

Spotting Woodworm, Beetles and Larvae

Spotting woodworm can be difficult due to the existing of woodworm beetle being seasonal. The best time to spot woodworm is between the months of March and September (this is also known as the flight season). Although quite a broad time-scale, this is when woodworm is most likely to leave the timber in an attempt to mate. One of the first places you will notice a woodworm infestation may not actually be on the wood itself as woodworm fly to a source of light it is common to find woodworm near the proximity of your window and window sills. It is there you will be able to see the woodworm beetle crawling looking to find a mate.

Types of Woodworm

Common Furniture Beetle

Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium Punctatum)

What does it look like?

● Small, dark, reddish.
● 3mm – 5mm in length.fg
● Regular lines running down its wings.

Habitat

● This common furniture beetle is by far the most common cause of damage encountered. Its specialty is sapwood of softwood and European hardwoods.

Signs of Infestation

● Round holes approximately 1.5 ­ 2mm in diameter.
● Small piles of frass seen within tunnels or on surfaces.
● Frass will have a gritty texture.

Deathwatch Woodworm Beetle

Deathwatch Beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum)

What does it look like?

● Chocolate brown in colour.
● 8mm in length.
● Patches of yellowish hairs.

Habitat

● The Deathwatch beetle usually attacks oak, however it will attack Softwood if well­rotted and in contact with infested hardwood.

Signs of Infestation?

● Round holes about 3mm diameter.
● Extensive tunnelling.
● Lots of frass usually present; frass is 'bun' shaped, readily visible to the naked eye.

Woodboring Weevil

Wood­boring Weevils (Euophryum confine and Pentarthrum huttoni)

What does it look like?

● Small, brown and black.
● Up to 5mm in length.
● Distinctive long snout.
● Antennae one third distance along snout.

Habitat

● Wood­boring Weevils attack both softwoods and hardwoods which have previously been subject to decay.
● Destruction is most commonly seen in damp skirting boards and embedded joist ends.

Signs of Infestation

● Tunnelling in sapwood tends to run along the grain.
● Tunnels are narrow, around 1mm diameter.
● Frass is likely to be 'sticky' due to the dampness.

Powder Post beetle

Powder Post beetle (Lyctus brunneus)

What does it look like?

● A mid reddish brown.
● 8 - 9mm in length.
● Flattened in shape.

Habitat

The powder post beetle unlike other beetles infest timber prior to its arrival in your home. Its arrival in the timber usually occurs when it’s being stored and cured and will later emerge from the finished product. The powder post beetle only attacks sapwood of wide ported hardwoods such as oak and obeche. The timber must be of recent origin, less than 15 years old and therefore is most likely to be seen in newly introduced hardwoods such as oak flooring or oak kitchen units.

Signs of Infestation

● Round holes 1.5 - 2mm.
● Usually lots of flour­like frass - smooth when rubbed.
● Live insects may be found around break­out holes.

House Longhorn Beetle

House Longhorn Beetle (Hylotrupes bajulus)

What does it look like?

● Larger than most woodworm beetles at 15 - 20mm in length.
● Black to dark brown.
● Long antennae.
● Grey hairs prominent on wing covers.

Habitat

This insect is specifically localised to the south­east of England, centred around Camberley. The House Longhorn beetle attacks the sapwood of softwood and can potentially cause severe structural damage to properties.

Signs of Infestation

● Oval emergence holes, 6­8mm across.
● Severe internal damage, often filled with loose frass.
● The surface of wood often remains thin and brittle when subject to a severe attack.

Request a survey

Got a Woodworm problem? Call 0800 288 8660 or

Having Problems with Woodworm Beetles in your home?

If you are concerned with woodworm beetles in your property then don’t hesitate to give Timberwise a call on 0800 288 8660 or alternatively, you can request a survey online. A survey through Timberwise will able to identify the full extent of the problem and determine whether woodworm treatment is necessary.