Woodworm infestations are a common problem affecting untreated, damp, or rotten wood. While woodworms aren’t harmful to people, they can cause several other issues. Every homeowner should know how to spot and prevent woodworm infestations in their home.
What are Woodworms?
The term woodworm refers to the larvae of several species of beetle. The best-known of these is the deathwatch beetle, but woodworm infestations will appear the same regardless of which species of beetle is responsible. As the name suggests, woodworms affect wood and timber. However, counterintuitively, woodworms are not worms; they are larvae. They are called woodworms because they resemble worms.
What Causes Woodworm Infestations?
The beetles responsible for woodworm infestations prefer to lay their eggs in warm, humid conditions. Damp timber provides them with the perfect environment. Not only does it offer warmth, humidity, and shelter, but the interior of wood also offers efficient insulation and protection.
Just about any wood affected by damp or leaks can attract a woodworm infestation. As wood decays, it provides an increasingly attractive option for beetles looking for somewhere to lay their eggs. Similarly, wood impacted by fungal issues such as mould and mildew is more likely to attract beetles and their eggs. The weaker the wood is, the easier it is for beetles to burrow deep into it.
Any untreated wood is susceptible to woodworm infestations. This includes everything from furniture to structural timber and firewood.
How to Identify a Woodworm Infestation
Woodworm infestations are usually easy to identify. The clearest sign of an infestation is the presence of adult beetles. However, another clue is patches of darker colour on the wood. You will also find lots of holes in the wood and can often hear a cracking sound coming from within if you listen carefully.
There is a widespread misconception that once you can see holes in wood, it indicates that the larvae have matured and left. This misconception is responsible for a lot of peoples’ complacency and inaction. While it’s true that these holes often do indicate that larvae that hatched in the wood have now left, it also demonstrates to the beetle that this is a prime location for laying their eggs. If you don’t take action after discovering woodworm holes in wood, a repeat infestation is all but guaranteed.
You can tell that you have an active woodworm infestation if you find adult beetle carcasses near the wood or frass ejected from the holes. If the number or density of the holes increases, this also indicates that the infestation is active and the larvae are working their way through the wood.
How do Woodworms Differ from Termites?
Termites and woodworms are the most common pests that eat wood, and both can cause severe damage to furniture, structures, and any wooden objects they affect. However, there are some crucial differences between them that are worth knowing.
First, termites are a type of cockroach. The damage that termites cause is caused by mature adult specimens, whereas woodworms are beetle larvae.
Another critical difference is that termites don’t bore holes through the wood; they will simply eat away at it. The presence of holes in wood is indicative of woodworms and can be key to identifying the issue as early as possible.
How to Protect Furniture from Woodworms
Once a woodworm infestation has taken hold, it can be difficult to treat effectively on your own and might require a professional pest control expert. However, there are several things you can do to minimise the chances of beetles entering your home and laying their eggs in any wood they can find.
Keeping the humidity in your home as low as possible will discourage beetles from making your house their home. This can be difficult for people who are particularly sensitive to dry air.
Treating wood will make it difficult or impossible for beetles to burrow holes. The chemical layer will also repel any beetle that does attempt to chew their way through.
If you don’t discover the infestation until the larvae have already matured and left, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent the parent beetle from returning to lay more eggs.
Using melted beeswax to tint the colour of the wood and fill in any holes is an effective measure, albeit a short-term one. Beetles hate beeswax, so this serves as a potent repellent. You can also use wood putty to cover any damage, although this isn’t a permanent solution either. Another cheap DIY fix for woodworm damage is to make a paste by stirring wood glue and sawdust together. Fill the holes in with this paste and wipe the wood down with a damp cloth.
The only long-term solution to keep your furniture protected from woodworm is to treat it.
How to Get Rid of an Active Woodworm Infestation
If you have an active woodworm infestation in your home, the quickest and most reliable way of dealing with it is to contact a professional pest control business. Pest control experts will have the equipment and knowledge needed to deal with the infestation and advise you on how you can prevent future outbreaks.
The only products that are guaranteed to work on active infestations are highly toxic chemicals. These chemicals can present a serious threat to human health; only professionals should handle them.
As long as the affected wood isn’t rotten or damp, it is usually salvageable after a woodworm infestation. Generally, woodworm will only impact the upper layers of wood. However, if damage or decay has weakened the wood, the larvae will be able to burrow more deeply.
Woodworm infestations aren’t dangerous to human health, but they can cause severe problems for wooden furniture and furnishings. If you notice holes appearing in wooden furniture or possessions in your home, this is usually an indication that you have woodworms. The only reliable way of dealing with woodworm is calling in a professional pest control service like Bon Accord. If you suspect a woodworm infestation in your home, contact us today to see how we can help.