Woodworm is not strictly one species
Woodworm rather is a descriptive term
The term describes the larvae of a range of wood-burrowing beetles. An infestation starts when a beetle burrows into timbers and lays eggs during mating season. Mating seasons vary from species to species, however the results are the same; the larvae mature and devour the wood during their growth to adulthood. They tunnel out of the wood and fly off as adult beetles, ready to start the whole cycle again. Small holes are produced by each larvae and being of quite a substantial number, cause devastating results in the wooden great number.
There are four main species of woodworm
Although there are others, these 4 main species are the most shared timber enemy:
- Anobium punctatum – The shared Furniture Beetle
- Hylotrupes bajulus – The House Longhorn Beetle
- Lyctus brunneus – The Powerpost Beetle
- Xestobium rufuvillosum – The Deathwatch Beetle
There is also the Wood Boring Weevil (Euophryum limit), that is categorised under the term woodwom.
Think you have woodworm?
The most shared woodworm infestation is truly by the shared Furniture Beetle which, contrary to the name, has a preference for structural wood instead of furniture. It can be identified by exit holes of 1.5-2mm and lemon shaped pellets that feel gritty to the touch. In all situations however it is better to get an expert to clarify the species of woodworm. This is due to the fact that different woodworm require different treatments and also cause varying degrees of damage. The House Longhorn Beetle Larvae for example, are larger than other woodworm species larvae and cause a lot more hidden damage. A specialist in the treatment of woodworm will be able to advise you on the best treatment in addition as which timbers to replace and woodworm prevention methods.
Taking steps to prevent woodworm
Although woodworm cannot typically be seen until an infestation has occurred, there are certain measures you can take to prevent infestation.
Woodworm most often cannot survive in dry timber; moisture levels below 11% typically make it very difficult for woodworm to survive. Moisture levels can be obtained by a wood moisture reader (a specialized will have one of these, ask if you can borrow one). If wood is moist you may consider eradicating the damp issue, such as poor ventilation or humid conditions. Drying out timbers with a dehumidifier is often the best option once the damp problem has been resolved. Long term use of a dehumidifier is not recommended, so get the damp sorted.
If timber is exposed it is easier for woodworm to gain entry. Coating timbers in preventative paints is always any option. Injection of substances to fill past woodworm infection holes is also necessary. These will both help you to diagnose if further infection occurs.
Different species burrow at different times of the year and have varying life cycles. The best way to combat this is to watch out for damp when the weather is more humid and to look for larval holes when the weather is warmer. Beetles like the damp, larvae like the warmth.
Treating a woodworm infestation
No matter the woodworm infection, softwood or hardwood, furniture or structural, your first port of call should be a woodworm specialist. Damp proofing companies often have woodworm specialists as a large portion of preventing woodworm comes from preventing damp. Most companies carry out free surveys and can perform same-day woodworm treatments. A specialist is also needed to survey the degree of damage caused by woodworm and replace any vital structural timbers. If furniture is infected with woodworm, removing it from your home is a good idea, avoiding increased infestation. Treatment of shared species of woodworm can include the injection of certain poisons, which take a matter of hours to work. However, infection with the Death Watch Beetle can take a few days of fumigation to eradicate the problem. The issue of fungal infection within wood after woodworm infestation can also be dealt with by a specialized.