Woodworm beetle

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What is Woodworm?

Woodworm is one of the most common causes of damage in timber framed buildings and it can have serious structural effects if left untreated. Anobium Punctatum, aka “the common furniture beetle”, is the main perpetrator of woodworm damage in the UK and leaves some easily spotted signs of its activity. However, it is possible to miss an active woodworm infestation in hidden, humid, areas of a home or commercial property such as under floorboards or in lofts.

We provide expert surveys to diagnose the problem and determine if the infestation is active or not, and if necessary, professional treatments specially designed to purge your property of woodworm with the minimum of fuss. Best of all, our wood boring beetle and larvae treatments carry a twenty year guarantee for complete peace of mind. Get in touch with our experts by calling 0800 633 5712 or click the button below to book a survey.

Woodworm beetle life cycle

Despite the name, woodworm are not actually worms at all, rather it is the generic name for the larva of certain species of wood boring beetle. These larvae are small, wriggly and white, similar to maggots but slightly bigger with a curved “C-shaped” body. However, it is very rare that you will ever see woodworm larvae, as they tend to stay burrowed in timber until they emerge as a fully grown beetle.
Woodworm go through different phases as they undergo their transformation into an adult beetle, the life cycle of woodworm is as follows:

  1. The adult beetle lays its eggs in crevices and open joints in wood.
  2. Larval grub spends years chewing through the wood, feeding on cellulose and leaving it structurally weakened in the process.
  3. The larva forms a pupation chamber near the surface where it will transform into a beetle.
  4. The adult beetle bores out of wood, mates and finds a wooden surface to begin the process all over again.
Woodworm lifecycle

How to identify Woodworm

If you want to know what a woodworm infestation looks like and whether you have one in your home then we would advise that you check your timbers. Signs of a woodworm infestation can be found anywhere there is timber in the home. Typically that could mean the roof rafters, floor joists, floorboards, skirting boards and of course any wooden furniture.
The six signs of woodworm infestation are:

  • Exit holes - Where the adult beetle has escaped.
  • Frass - A damp material reminiscent of sawdust.
  • Tunnels - Where the larvae have munched through the timber.
  • Cracking timber - Damage caused by the tunnelling.
  • Emerging beetles - In the summer beetles leave to mate.
  • Dead beetles - Adult beetles have short lives and will die near to where they emerged.

Identifying the signs of woodworm can be complicated as most people find that they first become aware that they have a woodworm problem when they spot the small round exit holes in their timber. Unfortunately, this alone does not tell you if you still have an active infestation. The biggest indicator of an active and present woodworm problem is evidence of ‘frass’ or bore dust beside the exit hole.

To find out more about the signs of woodworm and identifying active infestation you can visit our signs of woodworm page.

Types of Woodworm Beetle

Unfortunately, there are several different varieties of these unwelcome little pests and each has its own particular characteristics that influence the type of timber they will infest, and their life span in the larval stages.

Our guide will describe how to identify the four main species of woodworm beetles found in the UK.

Woodworm Species: Common furniture beetle

Common furniture beetle

(Anobium punctatum)

The Common Furniture Beetle has been known to attack both soft and hard wood. The adult beetle produces flight holes approximately 2mm in diameter and is chocolate brown coloured. It is able to fly. One beetle can lay between 30 - 40 eggs at a time and the life cycle of the larvae averages 3 years.

Death Watch Beetle - Xestobium rufovillosum

Death watch beetle

(Xestobium rufovillosum)

The most damaging wood borer in old buildings, attacking hardwood. For an infestation to start, the timbers must also suffer fungal decay. Bigger than the Common Furniture Beetle, it produces flight holes of approximately 2-3mm in diameter and are greyish brown in colour. Its life cycle averages 5 to 6 years. It is capable of flight and lays eggs in small clusters.


Wood boring weevil

(Euophryum confine)

Widespread in the UK and associated with wet rot decay. The adult is 3-5mm long, blackish-brown and identifiable by its long ‘snout’. Normally associated with damp timber and appears to have two overlapping life cycles in the year. Flight holes are small 1mm in diameter and ragged. This beetle is rarely treated with an insecticide as the fungal decay problem is more prevalent. Once the fungal decay problem is resolved the woodworm problem will die out naturally.

Hylotrupes bajulus

House longhorn beetle

(Hylotrupes Bajulus)

This large insect is mainly found in a 50-mile radius from Camberley (West London) and is sometimes known as the Camberley beetle. It attacks only softwood but because of its size and ability to bore extensively through sapwood and into heartwood, the damage caused is rapid and severe. It is greyish brown to black, has a life cycle of 5-11 years and can reach 25mm long. Flight holes are oval up to 9mm by 6mm. Each beetle can lay up to 200 eggs.

Woodworm Treatment - How to get rid of woodworm

Our treatment process has been ratified by industry trade bodies such as the Property Care Association, Which? Trusted Trader and more to effectively eliminate woodworm in roofs, floors and staircases. With decades of experience solving woodworm problems in properties across the UK, our process gives you complete peace of mind that our woodworm treatment is safe, fast and reliable.

Our full and comprehensive woodworm treatment service includes.

  • A survey by a local industry accredited surveyor to locate the infestation, determine whether it is active or not and identify accurately the species involved.
  • Once an active woodworm infestation has been positively identified we offer woodworm treatment solutions that can be used on either bare wood OR painted or varnished wood.
  • If  structurally necessary, infested timbers will be cut away and replaced, or economically repaired by skilled joiners using resin repair techniques.
  • Our treatments are backed by real and meaningful 20 year guarantees.

Our woodworm customer reviews

Peter Cox are one of the best reviewed  property preservation firms on Trustpilot - one of the most respected review platforms in the UK! Take a look at some sample reviews below to find out why our customers trust us to deal with their woodworm problems.

Contact your local woodworm specialists

If you suspect that you may have a woodworm issue, then we are here to help. Our fully qualified specialist surveyors will be able to determine the cause of the problem and recommend the most appropriate course of action. If necessary we have a team of experienced technicians ready to get started resolving the issue for you.
Get in touch with your local Peter Cox branch by giving us a call on 0800 633 5712 for some help and advice. Alternatively, click the button below to book a survey.

Author: Steve Jameson CSRT CSSW

Steve is our National Operations Manager and has been applying his expert eye to woodworm infestations in homes and commercial properties for more than 30 years. Steve's years of experience have informed the professional help and advice Peter Cox offer when it comes to wood boring insects and structural timber.

Next Steps

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