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Woodworm

WOODWORM TREATMENT AND CONTROL

What is woodworm?

Woodworm refers to the larvae of any wood-boring beetle, rather than one particular species. In the UK, the most common are the Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum), Deathwatch Beetle (Xestobium rufuvillosum), House Longhorn Beetle (Hylotrupes bajulus) and Powderpost Beetle (Lyctus brunneus). All invade and consume wood, and then leave when they have reached maturity.

How do I know if my property is affected?

Your woodwork may be harbouring woodworm without you knowing it. Wood can be infected with eggs or larvae without it being noticeable, and you may not discover a woodworm infestation for several years. It's a common misconception that woodworm only affects old properties; in fact it can cause damage to newly constructed buildings.

Tell-tale signs of woodworm include:

  • Small round holes in your woodwork, similar to the holes in a dart board.
  • Fine, powdery dust around these holes (this is known as frass).
  • Crumbly edges to boards and joists.
  • Adult beetles emerging from the holes or present around the house.

Even if you can't see any holes, you might also find frass escaping from the back or underside of old furniture. Again this suggests active woodworm.

Adult beetles are responsible for boring the holes when they exit the wood to breed. This happens between May and September, so a good idea is to block the holes during the winter by painting with a coat of emulsion, or applying masking tape. In the spring, you can check if any beetles have emerged and therefore determine whether you have active woodworm in your timber.

How much damage can woodworm cause?

The amount of harm caused by woodworm will depend on the species of beetle and the type of wood.

Common Furniture Beetle, attacks softwood (conifer) and the sapwood of European hardwoods. The most common woodworm species and is found throughout the UK, causes structural weakening of timbers and tunnelling along the grain of the wood can potentially cause extensive collapse. House Longhorn Beetle, only attacks the sapwood of softwood timbers. As softwood is often used in roof timbers, infestation can often result in severe structural weakening. The good news is that this species is now rare in the UK.

Powderpost Beetle, causes damage to wide-pored hardwood with high starch content, such as ash, elm and oak. Older timbers (over 15 years old) don't provide a suitable environment for this species. Tunnels along the grain and can cause severe damage, often infesting block or parquet flooring. Deathwatch Beetle, prefers European hardwoods, especially oak, ash and chestnut that have been "softened" by partial decay. The larvae tend to tunnel towards the centre of the timber, so that damage may be more extensive than is apparent from the exterior. In the UK, this species is concentrated chiefly in southern/central England, and is virtually absent in Scotland.

If you suspect a woodworm problem call TrustGuard and we will do the following;

  • Identify the species.
  • Determine whether the infestation is still active.
  • Establish if any timbers have been structurally weakened and need replacing.

Timber that has been structurally weakened will have to be removed and replaced with pre-treated timber. Other affected woodwork will then need to be treated.

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