Woodworm beetles have evolved a lifecycle specifically around the use of timber. Adults lay eggs in cracks and crevices of wooden objects, flooring and structural timbers. Larvae (or woodworm) when hatched burrow into the wood, where they feed and tunnel for several years. The larvae move closer to the surface to pupate. Then emerge as fully grown beetles, by eating their way out of the timber, to start the cycle again.
With time wood boring beetles will greatly reduce the strength of the infected wood. Infestations often go unseen - as the main damage is caused inside the timber for several years before adult beetles emerge through 'exit' or 'flight' holes.
Our woodworm specialists offer remedial treatments and solutions to protect your property and wood furnishings from the damage caused by woodworm beetles.
There are several species of wood boring beetles in the UK. Some are more prolific than others and each have variations in lifecycle, preferred woods they infest and extent of damage they can cause.
Much damage caused by wood boring beetles in UK buildings can be attributed to the Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum). This beetle as it's name suggests, is found throughout the country. It's natural habitat is the broken branches of trees and areas where the tree bark has been removed.
Within homes and other buildings the furniture beetle is an exceedingly common pest. Despite it's name this beetle can invade more than just furniture. Infestations can damage decorative woodwork, musical instruments, wooden tools and on a more serious scale wood flooring, joinery and structural timbers within properties. These wood boring beetles readily consume both hardwoods and softwoods.
An insect native to Britain the Deathwatch Beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum) has been well known for several hundred years. It's preference for infesting hardwoods such as seasoned oak, ash or sweet chestnut - which have been softened by fungal decay means it is found mostly in historic buildings. Old churches, stately homes, civic buildings and medieval structures are more susceptible to Death Watch Beetle, as their hardwood timbers have been exposed to potential wood decay and infestation over a long lifetime.
The larvae of the Death Watch Beetle tend to tunnel towards the middle of the timber, where they remain for between five to ten years. This results in more internal damage to the timbers than is visible on the surface. It is quite rare for the Death Watch Beetle woodworm to be found as far north as Scotland. The main concentration of this pest is within southern and central England.
This ancient pests unusual name is derived from the adult beetles attempts to attract a mate by making a 'tapping' or 'ticking' sound inside the wooden timbers. These noises are only heard at quiet times, such as the dead of night. Superstitious occupants of medieval sick rooms often heard this mysterious sound whilst keeping vigil (watch) over the dead and dying. This association led to the Death Watch Beetle being seen as an omen of impending death.
This beetle is not native to the UK, although originating in Europe this pest now has a worldwide distribution. Within the UK the House Longhorn Beetle (Hylotrupes bajulus) is mainly established in South East, in particular north west Surrey and to a lesser extent in London. It's long established presence in Surrey has earned it the nickname of the 'Camberley Beetle'.
The woodworm of this beetle infests seasoned and partly seasoned softwoods. Pine, spruce and fir timbers are most liable to infestation. It is frequently timbers used in the roof space that are infested. Damage can often be severe in timbers around the chimney area. The larvae produce large amounts of bore-dust (or frass) containing cylindrical pellets. Sometimes this is visible in the 'blistered' appearance of the surface wood. The woodworm will feed inside the timber for between three and eleven years depending on the wood quality and environmental conditions.
The adult beetle bites it's way out of the timber through large oval exit or flight holes, these can vary in size from 3 to 7mm. They have two distinctive spots on the thorax which resemble eyes. Longhorn beetles will fly freely in hot, sunny weather which enables them to spread an infestation from one building to the next.
One species of Powder Post Beetle (Lyctus brunneus) is commonly found in Britain. This beetle infests hardwoods such as Oak, Ash, Elm, Walnut, Sycamore, Sweet Chestnut and African Mahogany. It attacks these wide-pored hardwoods because the female beetle is able to fit her eggs into these pores. Timbers such as Beech, Birch and Horse Chestnut have pores which are too small and are therefore rarely attacked by the Powder Post Beetle.
This beetle is primarily a pest of timber yards, but can cause damage to furniture, wooden tools, frames, gun stocks, wood block flooring and structural timbers.The larvae gradually reduce the infested timber, just leaving a thin veneer of wood on the surface. Given enough time, the wood will be reduced to a mass of fine powder that crumble to the touch, hence the name 'powder post'.
The adult beetles usually appear in the summer months, but in heated premises they can be found throughout the year. The emerging adults leave behind pin-hole sized openings 1 to 2 mm in size, often called 'shot holes'.