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Woodworm are actually the larvae of woodboring beetles. There are several species of woodboring beetles in the UK. Some are more prolific than others and each have variations in lifecycle, preferred timbers they infest and extent of damage they can cause.
The Common Furniture beetle is the most widespread across the UK; however Death Watch, House Longhorn and Powder Post beetles can also infest timbers. With time, these woodboring insects will greatly reduce the strength of the timbers they infect. Infestations often go unseen - as the main damage is caused inside the wood for several years before adult beetles emerge through 'exit' or 'flight' holes.
Much damage caused by wood boring beetles in UK buildings can be attributed to the Common Furniture beetle. Its natural habitat is the broken branches of trees and areas where the tree bark has been removed.
Adult beetle is 3 - 4mm in length.
Larva will live for 3 - 5 years boring through timber before emerging to breed.
A native to Britain the Deathwatch Beetle has been well known for several hundred years. It prefers to infest hardwoods such as seasoned oak, ash or sweet chestnut which have been softened by fungal decay, meaning it is found mostly in historic buildings. These older buildings are more susceptible to Death Watch Beetle, as their timbers have been exposed to decay and infestation over a long lifetime.
Larva will live for 5 - 10 years boring through timber before emerging to breed.
One species of Powder Post Beetle 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 not native to the UK, although originating in Europe this pest now has a worldwide distribution. Within the UK the House Longhorn Beetle is mainly established in the 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'.
House longhorn beetle emerge from timber during July to September. Adults never feed, but live for 3-4 weeks after pupation.