There is a common misconception – from the name in all likelihood – that woodworm is actually a worm when, in fact, it is a beetle. There are different species of wood worm in the UK;
- Common furniture beetle
- Deathwatch beetle
- House longhorn beetle
- Powderpost beetle
All 4 of these species will invade and eat wooden items of furniture and the like and, when the larvae of these woof-boring beetles emerge into adulthood, they will leave.
But how do you know it is woodworm?
Your woodwork – skirting boards, furniture etc. – could be harbouring woodworm without you knowing it. Wood can be ‘infected’ with the eggs or larvae without it being noticed by you and woodworm infestations, in some cases, are not discovered for many years.
And don’t think because you live in a newly built property that you are immune from woodworm – it is not an infestation that affect old properties only!
The woodworm signs
There are many tell-take signs, including;
- The most obvious are small, round holes in wooden items or structures (it will look like the small pin head holes in a dartboard)
- Around these holes there may be a fine, powdery dust, known as frass
- Edges of wooden items can also appear crumbly
- Adult beetles may also be seen emerging from the holes or be seen in the house
- Some infestations are also reported where the obvious holes are not so apparent, but people find the frass – this is still a sign of woodworm.
However, the difficulties lay in the fact that sometimes, the adult beetle has left and you are finding old damage…
The holes commonly associated with woodworm are made when the adult leaves the wood to breed. This occurs between May and September each year. You can cover these holes with masking tape or emulsion over the winter months and check for disturbance in the spring – if there is, the woodworm infestation is active.
Woodworm opt for wood that has a high moisture content, over 18% although, for short periods, they can live in wood that is drier. It is possible to have the humidity of wood ‘measured’, a good tip if you think your property may be susceptible to woodworm.
Possible infestations can be avoided by taking steps such as:
- Keeping humidity levels low in a property is helpful, as is checking humidity levels within wood
- Any non-structural wood items that are infested should be removed as soon as possible to prevent the spread of woodworm
- It is possible to install ‘traps’ in areas such as lofts that are often under-ventilated; this stifled air is something woodworks like but these traps can capture the emerging adults
Think you have a woodworm problem?
It is important to get it checked out to as leaving an infestation can mean it takes hold across the home or property – and what could have been a relatively inexpensive problem to fix could now cost thousands of pounds not only in pest control work but structural repair too.