Top-Tips To Tackle Woodworm

As the summer approaches we have entered the start of ‘woodworm season’. Given that all the damage to the property is done during the larval stage when they are embedded in the timber, dealing with woodworm can sometimes seem like a difficult task, so if you are concerned that you might have an infestation present in your home, read on and follow our top tips to tackle woodworm.

1.  Exit Holes Don’t Necessarily Mean The Infestation Is Over

When woodworm complete their life cycle by transforming into adult beetles and exiting your timber they leave behind small tell-tale exit holes. These holes are usually the first indication someone has that there has ever been woodworm present in their home. However, the presence of exit holes themselves doesn’t prove that the woodworm site is now inactive. Rather, the likelihood is that the beetles will breed near the emergence site and go on to leave their offspring behind in the wood.

In order to determine if woodworm are still active in your home then we would advise that you examine the wood for signs of woodworm droppings which take the form of a fine sawdust like powder called ‘frass’ that you can usually see around the holes in active infestations.

2. The type of Woodworm is important

Woodworm is just a generic term applied to the wood boring larvae of different kinds of beetles, and it is important to recognise the different behaviours of the various forms of woodworm beetle.

As the name might suggest, the most typical form of woodworm is known as the ‘Common furniture beetle’. Again as the name may hint, these beetles like to lay their eggs in old furniture and loft timbers. Other types like the ominously named ‘Death Watch Beetle’ prefer hardwoods like ash and oak. The most damaging form of woodworm is generally considered to be the ‘House Longhorn Beetle’ which prefers softwood, but due to its size is capable of causing quite rapid and severe destruction.

3. Woodworm Do Not Always Prefer Damp Conditions

Our experience has taught us that many clients believe woodworm will only attack wood with a high moisture content or in properties that suffer from damp and excessively humid conditions. Whilst there is a degree of truth to the theory, unfortunately the reality is that damp conditions are not a prerequisite for most woodworm species to thrive in your wooden floors, furniture or structural timber.

The truth is that we only know of two species of woodworm that do require damp and decayed timber to survive, whereas moisture content is simply unimportant for other species.

4. Insecticides Are Not Guaranteed To Work

While sprays, paints and insecticides are all commonly used to treat woodworm infestations, many people find that after a couple of years they are back where they started with woodworm beetles appearing in their homes.

This is because most treatments are surface based and designed to kill the adult beetle as it emerges from the timber. The issue is that many of these treatments have a very shallow penetration depth so woodworm larvae living deeper than one or two millimetres into the wood can carry on unaffected for the length of their larval stage (two to five years in some cases). By the time these underlying woodworm are ready to exit the timber it could even be the case that the surface requires another coating in order to remain effective.

5. Damaged Timber Can Be Preserved Or Restored

In the words of ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, “Don’t panic!” While some species of woodworm are more destructive than others, it generally takes a very severe infestation indeed to compromise structural timbers. Even if this is the case, there are timber repair solutions out there that allow you to replace damaged sections in a cost effective manner.

The Most Serious Infestations May Require Professional Help

Whilst in many cases it is quite possible to treat woodworm on your own, other persistent or especially serious cases will probably require professional assistance. We would recommend contacting an approved and certified Woodworm solutions company with the capability to thoroughly treat the site with Safety Executive (HSE) approved woodworm formula that can be applied not only to bare timber, but also to painted or varnished wood.

Guest Blog supplied courtesy of property preservation experts Peter Cox


Posted 22nd May 2019