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Woodboring Insects

Many insects attack timber, although only a few are associated with wood that’s used for homes and other buildings. Below is an outline of the main woodboring insects and beetles, which affect properties in the UK.


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The common furniture beetle (woodworm, anobium punctatum), is the most prevalent wood boring beetle in the UK. Many older properties will show some evidence of woodworm activity in floorboards, joists and rafters. Whether this is a current active attack should be determined before any chemical treatment is performed.

Adult beetles mate and lay eggs on suitable timber. The eggs turn into larvae which burrow into the wood and spend three to five years eating/burrowing their way through the wood they inhabit. When ready, they pupate and then when the beetle emerges from the pupa (chrysalis), they chew their way to the surface and emerge from the wood leaving the signature emergence/exit holes.

The emergence period is approximately between March and September, at which time insects can sometimes be seen on the surface of the wood or flying through the air in a roof space. When the insects emerge, they leave a trail or pile of finely chewed wood which looks like fine saw dust. The presence of this dust by emergence holes is an indicator of current ongoing activity.

Deathwatch Beetle

This insect attacks hard woods such as oak. It’s usually associated with some rot activity and is commonly found in churches. This is where it derived its name as the tapping noise made as a mating call could be heard in the timber of the church. Death beetles resemble woodworm although they’re larger. With 3mm holes, the grubs are larger and there is a lot of bun-shaped frass (dust) in the tunnels. Deathwatch beetles typically aren’t found in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

House Longhorn

This insect can cause severe structural damage in a relatively short period of time. It’s a large insect that produces large oval holes (6-10mm in diameter) and tunnels which coalesce, resulting in severe internal damage. They tend to be restricted to the South East, especially in Camberley in Surrey. The presence of house longhorn beetles should be reported to the BRE and the attack should be treated if it’s active.

Wood boring weevil

This insect is found in timber that has rotted – commonly kitchen floors where damp has caused the boards and joists to rot. The tunnels tend to be along the grain, occasionally breaking the surface. Weevil activity is frequently misdiagnosed as woodworm. Treatment involves the removal of the source of moisture and timber repairs. If there is no rot, there won’t be weevil.

To find out more about the removal of woodboring insects, please call 0800 781 8358 or contact us online.