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What is woodworm?

Woodworm is the generic name given to many different forms of wood boring insects. Unlike its name, woodworm are in fact not worms but larvae. They can infest timbers of any age, old or new, and can be found in both residential and commercial properties.

There are many different species of woodworm which can infest timbers but usually those most often found are the common furniture, death watch, weevil and powder post beetle.

Each woodworm beetle has characteristic features and cause recognisable damage during their life cycle of timber infestation. Prokil have been assisting property owners for over 50 years to correctly identify and to carry out the best form of treatment for woodworm.


What causes woodworm?

Woodworm like to infest both soft wood and hard wood timbers, but like all insects, they have a life cycle. The initial woodworm infestation starts when a female beetle lands on a piece of timber and lays its eggs. Due to their small size, the woodworm often enter a building through sub floor vents, between roof tiles or even through open windows and doors. Once the eggs hatch the larvae tunnel through the timber and as they do often cause extensive damage which progressively gets worse over time. Once they reach maturity the larvae pupate and turn into woodworm beetles. Some of these beetles continue to tunnel through the wood but most will look to leave the timber to find a mate and to look to infest new timbers.

Newer timbers with a high starch content or damp timbers can create the perfect environment for some species of woodworm. Others only thrive under specific conditions and certain species are more resilient to specific forms of woodworm pesticides. Therefore, being able to correctly identify the type of woodworm in your house or property will determine the correct form of treatment required.

Why is woodworm a problem?

Different species of woodworm infestation result in various levels of timber destruction. An infestation, if left untreated, can cause timbers to become structurally unstable. Due to most of the damage being caused by internal tunnelling, the full extent of the problem often goes unnoticed until a timber disintegrates completely.

The adult woodworm beetles are capable of flight and are therefore able to rapidly infest other timbers in the vicinity. The life cycle of the wood boring larvae can also be up to 12 years and in this time severe timber damage can occur.

What does woodworm look like?

A woodworm infestation often goes undetected until the adult beetles emerge. At this point you may be able to identify whether you have wood boring insects. Look out for the following which are telltale signs that you may require specialist woodworm treatment.

  • Small round or oval holes approximately 2-4mm in diameter.
  • The presence of frass / powdery refuse.
  • Small insects on timbers between 3-8 mm in length.
  • Tunnelling or scoring along timbers.

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