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How to treat Woodworm and Wood-boring Beetles

The woodworm is the larvae of wood-boring beetles. One of the most common in the UK is the Common Furniture Beetle. The woodworm larval stage feeds on timber and leave tiny holes on the wood’s surface. Woodworms are off-white or yellow in colour with a small brown head. They use black pincers on their heads to bore into timber.

Woodworms are around 6mm in length. They propel themselves forward through wood with their ridged bodies. When the adult beetle leaves the timber to mate, it makes bigger exit holes.

The precise method of woodworm and wood-boring beetle treatment will depend on which species is attacking the timber. There are many different species of woodworm.

Common Furniture Beetle and Woodworm

The most common species of woodworm in the UK is the Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum). Despite its name, the Common Furniture Beetle is just as likely to attack joists and floorboards as it is to attack furniture.

The Common Furniture Beetle causes small, round holes in timber (approx. 1.5 – 2 mm diameter). It also leaves behind bore-dust and exit holes. When magnified, dust particles look like lemon-shaped pellets and feel “gritty” to the touch. A woodworm problem can be identified by the presence of these pellets, dust and holes.

Keep in mind that the Common Furniture Beetle will only nest within sapwood. Learn more about sapwood and heartwood here.

The adult Common Furniture beetle (see below) is typically between 3 and 5 mm long. They’re easily identifiable by their:

  • dark brown to dark red colouring
  • a distinct hump in its thorax
  • pitted markings running along its back
  • antennae that are shorter than its legs

In most cases, Common Furniture Beetle and woodworm infestation treatment is straightforward. Any weak timber should be removed and replaced with pre-treated timber. Affected timber should be treated with SoluGuard Woodworm Treatment and applied by brush or spray. This woodworm killer will effectively deal with all stages of the wood-boring beetle lifecycle.

Adult woodworm beetle (anobium punctatum)

Various magnified views of adult Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum) ©Siga

Other Types of Woodworm

Woodworm

Other types of wood worm common to the UK include:

  • Deathwatch Beetle
  • House Longhorn Beetle
  • Powderpost beetle

Of these types, House Longhorn and Deathwatch beetle infestations are always serious. The House Longhorn Beetle causes severe damage. Its larvae are larger than those of other UK wood-boring beetles.

What attracts wood worm and wood-boring beetles?

Common Furniture Beetle

Wood-boring beetles look for untreated wood with a high moisture content to lay their eggs. Moist wood is soft, which makes it easier to bore into. Moist wood is also easier for wood worm to eat and digest.

Although each species has a particular preference of wood type, as a general rule wood-boring beetles prefer hardwoods of around 30% moisture content. The wetter the wood, the higher the chances that this season’s wood worms will become next season’s wood-boring beetles.

Wood-boring beetles find it difficult to lay their eggs inside treated woods. Varnished wood provides a hostile environment that wood worms do not like. They find it difficult to eat through this type of sealed wood.

Protect your garden and indoor timber with a wood preservative like Roxil Wood Preserver. Roxil’s biocidal component defends against woodworm infestation. For wood already infested with wood worm, Soluguard Woodworm Treatment provides effective eradication of all stages of the wood-boring beetle lifecycle.

When do woodworms hatch?

A woodworm emerging from the wood.

Wood-boring beetles have a relatively long lifecycle for insects. Active woodworm infestations can span up to several years. This is because of the length of time it takes for wood worms to tunnel through wood to reach the surface. Common Furniture Beetles usually appear between April and September to lay fresh eggs.

  1. Beetles lay eggs:


    The adult female beetle will get into untreated timber through cracks and other imperfections already present in the wood. There, it will lay eggs inside the wood.
  2. Woodworms hatch and feed:


    After 2 weeks or so, woodworms will emerge from the eggs. Once they are born, they will eat through wood to reach the surface. This process may take 24 months or more.
  3. Pupation and the cycle starts again:


    Once the wood worm is close to the surface, it will stop eating timber and form a small chamber. There, it will pupate into an adult Common Furniture Beetle. As a fully grown adult, it will finally emerge to mate and lay eggs. Then the process begins anew!

The main problems encountered when treating wood worm infestation are:

  • identifying the species
  • diagnosing if the infestation is active
  • replacing damaged timber

We always recommend that an experienced timber treatment company carry out a survey if an active wood worm infestation is suspected. For details of companies in your area, please contact our technical department on 01403 210204 or submit an enquiry.

Free Woodworm Identification Guide

Download our free Woodworm Identification guide.

Information given for each species includes:

  • types of timbers
  • types of damage
  • beetle life cycle
  • identification of woodworm infestation

Professional Contractors

In the case of widespread infestation or where destructive species are involved, experienced contractors should carry out woodworm treatment. To find woodworm treatment companies in your area, please contact our technical department on 01403 210204 or submit an enquiry.

Suggested NBS specification clause: C52-323

Visit our NBS page for further information on specifying Safeguard products using NBS.

For more information call
01403 210204