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A woodworm beetle, or more accurately, a wood-boring beetle, will lay its eggs into timber and these eggs develop into the wood-boring larvae widely known by the generic term woodworm. Unfortunately there are several different varieties of these unwelcome little pests and each has their own particular characteristics that influence the type of timber they will infest, and their life span in the larval stages.
Our guide will describe the four main species of woodworm beetle found in the UK and will outline the woodworm life cycle for you so you know what to expect from any potential outbreak. If you suspect you have woodworm in your property, or have found beetles emerging from timber in your home, then we suggest you should take a look at our woodworm treatment pages to discover how our woodworm experts can help you.
Read our profiles of the four most common offenders...
Common furniture beetle
Responsible for about 75% of all woodworm damage to property in the UK, attacking both soft and hard woods. 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
The most damaging wood borer in old buildings, attacking hardwood and often found in timbers that also suffer from fungal decay. Bigger than the Common Furniture Beetle it produces flight holes of approximately 3-4mm 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
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 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.
House longhorn beetle
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 life cycle
All of the woodworm beetles mentioned above share the same life cycle stages. The woodworm life cycle can last up to five years and encapsulates four distinct stages of development as the insect undergoes its transformation from an egg to its emergence as an adult beetle. It is important to note that almost all of the damage caused by woodworm actually occurs during the larva stage before the pests have developed into full grown beetles.
Stages of the woodworm life cycle
The process begins when a gravid (egg carrying) female beetle lands on a piece of timber...
Stage 1: laying the eggs - The beetle will then lay its eggs directly into the timber through small crevices, cracks or pre existing exit holes from a prior woodworm infestation.The eggs are laid deep in the timber to protect the eggs from surface predators.
Stage 2: larva or worm stage - After about five weeks , the eggs then begin to hatch and the newborn larva burrow downwards into the timber. This is the “woodworm” stage of an infestation.
This stage of the cycle is where the damage is done as larvae can live from anywhere between two to five years, feeding their way up and down through the timber (which can lead to structural damage).
During this phase woodworm can be often be detected through the bore-dust or frass being produced. The frass can help us identify the species of woodworm and confirm whether the woodworm infestation is active or not.
Stage 3: transformation into an adult beetle - The woodworm lifecycle is almost at an end now. The larvae now ‘pupates’ and changes into an adult beetle just below the surface of the wood.
Stage 4: adult woodworm beetle emerges - The adult beetles will eat their way through the timber to create exit holes that can be seen on the surface of the timber. From here the beetles will immediately begin to seek a mate to begin the process all over again.
Protect your property against woodworm beetles
If you are concerned that you have identified woodworm beetles in your property then your next step should be to arrange for one of our fully certified and accredited specialists to conduct a full and thorough woodworm survey at your property.
Our surveyors are industry leaders in the identification and treatment of woodworm and come equipped with unrivalled knowledge and experience to help you protect your property against woodworm infestations.
*Survey enquiries for your local branch will be directed to our dedicated central survey control teams across the UK. Calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers are free unless you are calling from a business phone, in which case the rate will be set by your provider.