The use of wood as a material features heavily in our everyday lives. Whether it’s being used as an office desk, a sturdy coat hanger or just simply being burnt to keep us warm. However when something decides to start eating away at it, it becomes a progressively bigger problem.
Perhaps the biggest pest of them all is woodworm. (More details on our woodworm treatment service here). Besides the fact they can potentially ruin a great piece of antique furniture there are many different types of them as well. One of the most widespread varieties in North America is the ambrosia beetle.
Coming from the weevil family these beetles essentially burrow tunnels through dead wood or furniture in order to release its spores. This particular species is partial to sapwood and they colonize in dying or newly dead trees. The fungus from the beetle’s spores extract all the tree’s xylem tissue which then gets digested and consequently leads to deterioration of the wood. Compared to other species, the ambrosia beetle is the only member of the weevil family which is entirely dependent on the fungus that grows on and inside of trees.
Although this particular species of beetle depends highly on natural fungus on trees, they will often be found in trees such as pine, oak and beech – all materials which are used for furniture. Although there is not much that can be done once ambrosia beetles set in to the wood, there are a few measures and treatments that can prevent them settling in or at least minimise the effects.
Before any treatments take place on the infected material, you must be assured that the action is still happening inside the wood. A test which can be used to ascertain this is to block one of the flight holes in the furniture with some wax. This will need monitoring over a year. If any more holes appear in the wood for flight then it will be time to act.
Before treatment is applied all paint, varnish and lacquer needs to be removed from the surface to be treated. The coats of varnish will not allow the treatment take any effect on the woodworm. Even after treatment there still may be some movement as the typical life of the beetles is 3 or 4 years. Even if there are new holes in the furniture there may be a couple of years until the latest generation of the beetles die off until the internal infestation is cleared.
Where liquid treatment is not suitable for more fragile pieces of furniture an alternative heat treatment is also available. A technique developed in Germany using humidification and heating controls to modify and make sure the moisture inside the object is at the right consistency. Although it’s a more specialist treatment the procedure does ensure that the infestation is 100% cleared. Though this is a very effective procedure, to make sure the routine is carried out properly it will need anywhere between 15 to 24 hours to complete.