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How to Identify Different Wood-Boring Insects

Upon noticing signs of wood-boring beetles, your first thought likely turns to how to get rid of them. Different wood bugs cause different types of damage, which may lead to differing UK wood-boring beetle treatments. As a result, being well-equipped in wood-boring beetle identification in the UK could be of use.

In regard to wood-boring insects, you may also hear the term “woodworm”, but what is woodworm? Woodworm is the wood eating larva of multiple beetle species. Consequently, you may also want to brush up on your wood-boring beetle larvae identification.

With this being said, how do you go about wood-boring insects identification?

Common Furniture Beetle

First up is the Common Furniture Beetle, which quite simply mimics the appearance of the classic beetle in terms of size and shape with a light, green-brown colouring. Don’t underestimate the beetle’s small size, as this species is more than capable of inflicting structural damage on your property.

These insects prefer to feast on the sapwood of hard and softwood alike and create rounded tunnels in the direction of the woodgrain. This species is able to fly, meaning that they can easily locate new wood sources.

The tell-tale signs of the common furniture beetle include their distinctive droppings, a fine sawdust created when the adult chews its way to the surface of the wood leaving a round 1-2mm flight/exit hole.

Death Watch Beetle

The Death Watch Beetle has a bee-like beetle appearance, with a furry texture and light brown colouring. This species loves to eat rotting hardwoods and will cause serious timber damage as it does so. Usually, these beetles create white rot problems and form extensive tunnels throughout the wood in your property. Like the Common Furniture Beetle, Death Watch Beetles will also fly to find rotting wood.

The revealing indications of these insects include rounded tunnels that are filled with frass, which is noticeable to the naked eye. Similarly, female Death Watch Beetles make a distinguishing tapping sound during the night to attract males

Ambrosia Beetle

The Ambrosia Beetle is long, narrow, shiny, dark brown, and has tucked-back wings. Typically, this species is found in woodland, but the right conditions permit it to enter the home. This is because these beetles enjoy hard and softwoods of all kinds, meaning they’re regularly found in fresh logs or fallen trees.

These insects fly between wood sources; however, they form blue-lined round-edged tunnels that go against the grain. As a result, they can inflict extensive damage onto construction-ready timber. You won’t be able to identify these insects from frass as it won’t be visible to the naked eye. Instead, you’ll identify their presence from holes in the timber of varying size, each of which will be significantly bigger than the holes of other beetle types.

Platypus Cylindrus

Fan-Bearing Woodborer

Fan-bearing woodborers are small blackish-brown beetles and, as the name suggests, they have distinguishing antennae that are shaped like a fan. Usually, this species will be found in woodland areas and lumber yards and can inflict severe damage to timber. These insects prefer to focus their attention on the grain of hardwood and will fly about their environment to locate new wood sources.

Though it’s not impossible for these beetles to make their way into domestic settings, it’s very rare, which is a relief considering the extent of damage they can cause. They will start by forming rounded tunnels that they fill with flour-like frass, exiting through 2mm diameter holes near the timber’s surface.

Powder Post Beetle

Powder Post Beetles are slightly hairy with reddish-brown colouring, but their small size shouldn’t be underestimated as they bore deeply into timber. Their preferred timber is hard sapwood that is less than 10 years old, and they follow the wood grain. In doing so, they form a maze of conjoining rounded tunnels and exit the wood via 1mm holes, where they leave behind soft, flour-like frass.


"Lyctoxylon dentatum, dorsal view" by ZooKeys is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Bark Borer

Although there are a handful of Bark Borer types, the most common have a brown colouring and will inflict severe damage onto the timber’s surface level. You’ll only find Bark Borers in softwoods, which they’ll fly between. These insects create rounded tunnels on the timber’s surface. You can identify their presence via 2mm flight holes and rounded frass that varies in colour and shape.

Wood Boring Weevil

The Wood Boring Weevil is a European beetle that has a small, reddish-brown appearance. Predominantly, this species is found in buildings, where the damage caused is in no way minimal. Typically, these insects will select rotten timber of any variety, so long as the conditions are damp; as a result, they fly to buildings with damp issues.

Wood Boring Weevils form rough oval-shaped tunnels that sit beneath the wood and damage the surface. Consequently, this leads to destruction which you can identify from 1mm flight holes and small oval pellet-like frass.


"Pentarthrum huttoni" by ZooKeys is licensed under CC BY 3.0

House Longhorn

One major issue for timber inside your property is the House Longhorn which is a large dark brown insect with white hairs and long antennae. These insects prefer young softwoods and fly between houses to lay their eggs, eating timber as they go.

The House Longhorn’s large size allows it to form deep, damaging tunnels filled with sausage-like frass pellets. Their tunnelling motion breaks the timber’s surface, completely ruining the top layer. You’ll be able to easily identify their presence as they leave behind huge 10mm flight holes, deeply damaging the wood.

Asian Long-Horned Beetle

The Asian Long-Horned Beetle has a distinctive appearance of black colouring with white markings, and its larvae are extremely challenging to kill. These insects enjoy hardwoods and will fly far and wide to find new sources. This species has been found in construction-bound timber, although they’re almost always found in trees; however, the trees will die upon the entrance of this beetle. These beetles can be identified via 2cm flight holes and sawdust-like frass that can’t be contained within the timber.

Wharf Borer

Wharf Borers are orange-brown insects that have long antennae and dark legs with a preference for rotting woods. They will fly short distances before boring into the wood and creating oval tunnels. In the process, they leave behind soil-like frass. Their presence can be indicated via 8mm exit holes and will be typically found in homes by the coast or properties with damp issues.

Wood Wasp

The Wood Wasp is the only wasp on the list that causes extensive damage to timber. These insects will solely target rotting trees and softwoods, although they’re capable of flying long distances in order to find these sources. The good thing about this species is that once the wood has been treated, it won’t return. Despite this, they will create single-track tunnels that ultimately kill the wood ahead of it being treated. Their presence can be identified via 7mm exit holes that are full of dense frass fibres that are particularly tricky to extract.

Treat Woodworm with Garratts Damp & Timber LTD

In order to learn more about our woodworm treatment services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We offer a no-obligation site survey so that we can provide you with an accurate quote ahead of commencing work.

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