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The Life Cycle of Woodworm in the UK

Damp Timber Structure

Woodworm is a common issue amongst households across the length and breadth of the UK. Our experienced team routinely attends properties that have woodworm infestations and provide effective treatment. In our 18 years of trade, we have seen infestations of all levels and varying severities. The extent of a woodworm infestation largely depends on the stage the woodworm is at during its lifecycle.

Oftentimes, people don’t know they have a woodworm problem until the beetles are nearing the latter stages of their natural life, by which time they’ve had anywhere between two and four years to cause damage to the internal structures of your wood.

By knowing the lifecycle of woodworm, you will be better placed to identify whether or not you have a problem, and this could greatly reduce the damage caused and the cost of fixing the issue. Below, we will detail the life cycle of woodworm in the UK.


The first stage of a woodworm’s lifecycle is the hatching stage. An adult beetle will seek out an opening in wood or timber to lay eggs in the crevice. The eggs are typically laid within tunnels made by the previous woodworm. The adult beetle chooses these tunnels as they provide a safe space for the eggs to hatch.

Once the eggs hatch, larvae emerge. The larvae spend up to four or five years in the wood, eating their way through the timber as they grow and creating more tunnels. If there are a lot of tunnels concentrated in one area, the timber can become structurally compromised. Depending on the wood in question, this could be a big issue for your house and a costly problem to fix, especially if entire sections need removing and replacing.

At this stage, you may not notice any distinct signs of woodworm depending on how many larvae there are and whether the wood has been compromised previously. If there are multiple woodworms you might notice frass – a dusty substance that is the waste product created by the adult bettle emerging. If you do see frass, it’s a pretty solid sign that woodworm is present and active. You may also notice the wood is crumbly to touch.


After eating away at timber, the larvae will eventually move towards the surface of the wood. They will create a pupal chamber which is where they expand the tunnel to a size that is big enough to accommodate them as they transform into a beetle.

The size of the beetle will depend on the species. There are a few woodboring species, with the most common being the common furniture beetle, the powder post beetle and the wood-boring weevil. The common furniture beetle is the most common woodworm beetle in the UK.


When pupation is complete, the beetle will bore an exit hole to exit the wood. This is the stage at which most people will be able to identify they have a woodworm issue and when the Garratt’s Damp & Timber team are typically called in to provide advice on how to get rid of woodworm. This is usually the most identifiable sign of woodworm because you may notice beetles in your house.

The beetles cause little more damage to the timber at this stage. The females tend to live for up to two weeks and the males a matter of days, during which time they have to mate.

Laying Eggs

When the beetles have mated, the female will enter the wood and lay eggs, and the cycle starts all over again.

How to Treat Woodworm in the UK

How woodworm is treated will depend on where it is. If you’re looking at treating woodworm in furniture, you can probably use a chemical solution from a DIY shop. In contrast, if you notice signs of woodworm in multiple locations or in areas of timber that support your house, your best option is to call on the services of the Garratt’s Damp & Timber team.

We will undertake a site survey and assess the extent of the problem. At this stage, we will provide you with a no-obligation quote on much it will cost to treat woodworm and what the proves will be.

Book a Site Survey Today 

We provide our expert damp and timber services across London and the northern home counties. To find out more about the services we offer and to book a site survey, please contact us or call us on 020 8535 7536.

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