It’s not uncommon to notice little holes in wooden items inside properties at this time of year. You may also notice small piles of dust near them. This is likely to be the result of ‘woodworm’, or more accurately, the larvae of wood boring beetles. There are four species in the UK, and the common furniture beetle is typically present in 80% of UK homes.
Their larvae usually emerge between the months of April to September, and are so prevalent because they eat almost any type of wood – a key material in building and construction, furniture, ornaments and many everyday household items.
The typical lifecycle of the common furniture beetle is three to five years from egg to adult. These wood boring beetles typically nestle in wooden items for many years before eating their way out and creating an exit or emergence hole. If you have noticed these holes while working from home over the past few months, it’s likely you’ll need to take action.
Where would I typically find woodworm?
Woodworm can often be found in timber beams and floorboards within properties, and if left untreated can even threaten the structural integrity of a building if the timbers affected form part of the overall support structure. They are also known to cause significant damage to treasured items of furniture.
In the home, Peter Cox is often called in to treat woodworm infestations in cupboards underneath stairs, and in joists or rafters in lofts. We are also frequently called in to stately homes, museums and historic properties to ensure their structures and artefacts aren’t damaged by wood boring beetles too.
How do you prevent a woodworm infestation?
Like many insects, wood boring beetles can be tricky to prevent from entering your home, but there are a few preventative measures you can take to reduce your chances of an infestation occurring:
1. Ventilate your home:
Ultimately, removing moisture and humidity in your home will reduce the likelihood of it experiencing a woodworm infestation. This means proper ventilation, by opening windows and heating the property when the weather starts to get colder.
2. Take precautions when bringing wooden items inside:
If you are looking to buy a piece of second hand or antique furniture for your home, inspect all surfaces for exit or emergence holes, which are about 2mm in diameter. Active infestations have clean holes, which may have dust coming from them.
3. Ask to see a guarantee certificate:
If you suspect a wooden item or property has had a woodworm problem which has been treated, you should always ask to see a guarantee certificate for when this treatment took place. A professional treatment should come with at least a 10-year guarantee.
You will only be able to tell if a piece of wooden furniture has an active infestation when damage to the wood has already taken place, so it is important to take immediate action as soon as the problem is identified. DIY products can help treat localised infestations and are suitable to use on small items such as tables and chairs. From wax to oils and water-based preservatives, these DIY treatments will not only kill the beetles, but also help prevent further ‘woodworm’ infestation in the future.
However, depending on the severity of an infestation and how delicate the affected item is, there are also advanced technologies that can help. Professionals use Controlled Atmosphere Technology (CAT), which is a safe and effective method to treat many items. Inert gases are used in a controlled atmosphere to eliminate the insect at all stages of the lifecycle, including eggs and larvae, while leaving no harmful residues on the treated item. The treatment also penetrates fabrics, so upholstered furniture can be treated without having to remove the fabric.
If you’re unsure of the type of beetle in your home, or the extent of the infestation present, then it’s best to call in the experts. They are trained to recognise the different types of woodworm and offer targeted treatment with guarantees of up to 20 years, eradicating the problem quickly and efficiently, so you don’t have to worry about an infestation happening again.