Have you ever noticed pin sized holes in the wooden areas of your home? This could be the early signs of woodworm infestation. Wood Borer is a broad term that is used to describe many different types of wood boring beetles, each unique in appearance and behaviour. In their larval stage, known as a woodworm, they feed off and destroy wood materials. The different beetles each have a specific type of wood on which they prefer to feed.
In nature they play an important role: serving as nature’s wriggly recyclers, they feast on dead trees. They are nature’s very own grim reaper, collecting dead trees and ushering them into the life beyond. I assume this is the reason why they are such a nuisance in our homes: they mistakenly assume our beautiful wooden furniture is dead wood which needs a visit from death. The Deathwatch beetle in this case…
Signs of woodworm infestation
Adult beetles lay their eggs in cracks in wood, be it floorboards, furniture or timber. This allows the larvae to immediately burrow through the wood undetected. Safely inside the wood the woodworm will form tunnels as it continues to eat the wood for several years.
Signs of a woodworm infestation include:
- Fresh exit holes in timber: these are oval or circular shaped with sharp edges.
- Weak and damaged floorboards. In severe cases, you’ll notice it when a foot or chair leg goes through the floor!
- Tunnels in the wood. These are often hard to see, and they are also known as galleries.
- Bore dust is another telltale sign. Also known as frass, bore dust is caused by emerging adult beetles, and can be seen below the infested wood.
- Crumbling wood
- Dead beetles: these are usually spotted around the infested wood.
- Eggs, although these are hard to spot with the naked eye.
- Wood Borer larvae: these are a curved shaped and a creamy white colour.
Look out for these Common Beetles
Every different kind of wood borer is unique in its look and behaviour. With their own palate they each have a particular wood on which they love to feed.
The Deathwatch Beetle
Dark brown with yellow scale-like hairs on its body, the Deathwatch beetle is the grim reaper to fallen trees. It’s larvae is creamy white, and hook-shaped like the reaper’s scythe. The woodworm almost always occurs in old hardwood, and the beetle lives in the dead wood of hardwood trees where fungal decay is present. The beetle makes a ticking sound inside timber, like death counting away the seconds. It is said that occupants of medieval sick rooms would hear this sound as they kept watch over the dead and dying, hence the grim name.
Common Furniture Beetle
As its name implies, this beetle is quite common, and is also known as the house borer. A lot of the damage caused by woodworms can be attributed to this particular beetle. It usually infests softer wood (unlike the death watch beetle), although in some cases it can be found in hardwood. It often causes damage in newly built furniture and new homes.
For more information on different species of wood borers see here
How to get rid of Wood Borers
I always say prevention is king, and one method of prevention is to treat the foundations of your house with a barrier of polyethylene. This works as a preventative measure because beetles have certain moisture requirements in order to thrive. This will also prevent them from spreading should you already have an infestation. Another idea is to coat unprotected wood with an insecticide that kill beetles before infestation can occur.
However, getting professional, specialist advice from a Rentokil technician will help you to get rid of an infestation while ensuring that you and your pets remain unharmed. One option available is using water based treatment, which is designed to minimize exposure to you and your pets, and which also helps treat fungal decay. Other treatments include fumigation and heat treatment.
If left unchecked the presence of wood borers may compromise the structural integrity of the timber in your home or business. Contact a Rentokil specialist for expert help.