Are woodworms really worms? The little holes that you will sometimes see in antique furniture, skirting boards and support timbers are often attributed to creatures we like to call ‘woodworms’, but in fact, they are not actually caused by ‘worms’ of any kind.

The holes themselves are exit tunnels created by the larval forms of a wide variety of insects, mostly beetles but also some wasps. It is true that in this early stage they look a little like worms, but when you are wondering about whether or not you have woodworm, you aren’t looking for something wiggling or with a slime trail, but something with six legs, an outer shell, and possibly wings. This is why properly and correctly identifying woodworm is so important.

When choosing the particular course of woodworm treatment that your house and your timbers may need, knowing the specific type of woodworm involved is vital. It can tell you everything from how strong a chemical agent you will need, to how wide an area that chemical will need to be deployed over, to how quickly you will need to act. Although the holes themselves are exiting passages, that does not mean that every last insect has already left. That is why extermination is so important.

If too many eggs or larval insect forms are still in place then future problems may occur. The insects may be making your home’s support structures their habitat now but preparing to leave the nest later. When they do, the structural integrity of your home’s woodwork itself is in potential jeopardy.

If you suspect that woodworm may have arrived in your home, you can get a clearer idea of exactly what you are dealing with from the following outline. To know for sure just what your home needs, contact Garratt’s Damp & Timber today for our expert and impartial advice.

Identifying WoodwormTimber attackedDamage                                        Signs                                        
Common Furniture Beetle

Common Furniture Beetle

(Anobium Punctatum)

  • Sapwood of soft and hard timbers and older plywood
  • Modern plywood and tropical hardwoods are generally immune
  • Severe, extensive tunnelling that generally follows the grain of the timber
  • Treatable
  • Lots of gritty, uniformly-coloured dust that can be easily knocked from the timber
  • Round tunnels generally running with the grain
  • Round flight holes on the timber’s surface of approximately 1-2mm diameter
Death Watch Beetle

Death Watch Beetle

(Xestobium Rufovillosum)

  • Hardwoods like oak or elm with some degree of physical decay
  • Softwoods where significant decay is present and when it is located close to the aforementioned hardwoods
  • Severe, extensive tunnelling that is more evident internally
  • Treatable
  • Large and gritty pellets of dust (frass) of a uniform colour
  • Round tunnels with a lot of dust
  • Round flight holes on timber’s surface of approximately 3mm diameter
Woodboring Weevils

Wood-boring Weevils

(Pentarthrum Huttoni Euophryum Confine)

  • Well decayed, aged hardwoods and softwoods
  • Tunnelling with the grain of the timber due to larvae and adult beetle activity
  • Tunnels frequently break the surface of the timber
  • Lots of gritty, uniformly-coloured dust that can be easily knocked from the timber
  • Round tunnels generally running with the grain and breaking the surface
  • Round, jagged flight holes on timber’s surface of approximately 1mm diameter
Powder Post Beetle

(Lyctus Brunneus)

  • Sapwood of wide-pored hardwoods like oak with high starch levels
  • Obeche core in plywood
  • Timber over 10 years old achieve immunity due to starch depletion of the natural ageing process
  • Severe tunnelling in the sapwood, with the grain in the early stages
  • Sapwood may be totally disintegrated with only a thin, sound surface to timber
  • Treatable
  • A smooth, flour-like dust that can be easily knocked from the timber
  • Round tunnels which frequently intersect, often following the grain in early stages
  • Round flight holes on timber’s surface of approximately 1-2mm diameter
House Longhorn Beetle

(Hylotrupes Bajulus)

  • The sapwood of softwoods
  • Severe tunnelling that often coalesces
  • Sapwood may be totally destroyed leaving a thin veneer surface that may appear corrugated
  • The tunnel is full of frass and often exhibits fine ridges
  • Treatable
  • Sausage-shaped pellets (frass) readily visible to the naked eye and easily shaken from the timber
  • Large, oval-shaped tunnels that often coalesce
  • Oval, jagged flight holes on timber’s surface of approximately 6-10mm diameter
Wharf Borer

(Nacerdes Melanura)

  • Severely decayed, aged hardwoods and softwoods
  • Softwood is reported to be preferred
  • Severe tunnelling in rotted wood
  • The tunnel is full of mud-like frass and coarse fibres
  • Tunnels generally follow the grain of the timber
  • Mud-like frass with clutches of coarse fibre
  • Large, oval-shaped tunnels that often coalesce
  • Oval, jagged flight holes on timber’s surface of approximately 6-7mm diameter
Bark (Waney Edge) Borer

(Ernobius Mollis)

  • Seasoned and partly seasoned timber with bark present
  • The presence of bark is required to initiate an attack
  • Surface scoring to outer sapwood, some holes present
  • Most damage is present in the bark
  • Gritty, round-shaped pellets of a uniform colour
  • Round tunnels mainly in the bark
  • Round flight holes of approximately 2mm diameter
Wood Wasp

(Urocerus Gigas)

  • Softwoods of newly felled logs and unhealthy trees
  • This forest insect will not attack seasoned wood
  • Discrete tunnels with hard-packed fibrous frass
  • A coarse, fibrous frass which is hard to remove from tunnels
  • Large, round, smooth-edged tunnels of good separation
  • Round flight holes of approximately 6-7mm diameter
Fan Bearing Wood Borer

Fan Bearing Wood Borer

(Ptilinus Pectinicornis)

 

  • The sapwood of certain European hardwoods like oak
  • It is rarely found in furniture
  • Severe tunnelling in the sapwood, going with the grain in early stages. Similar to Powder Post Beetle but frass is extremely hard packed
  • Sapwood may be totally disintegrated with only a thin, sound surface to the timber
  • A smooth, flour-like dust that cannot be knocked from the timber and requires digging out
  • Round tunnels full of hard frass
  • Round flight holes on timber surface of approximately 2mm diameter
Pinhole Borers

(There are numerous types of Ambrosia Beetle)

  • Newly felled logs of hardwoods and softwoods
  • This forest insect will not attack seasoned wood
  • Tunnelling due to female adult activity is found across the grain
  • Blue or black staining to tunnel wall
  • No frass
  • Round tunnels of varying size
  • Round, black-stained entry holes that vary in size
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4:04 PM Sep 22nd|@garrattsdamp
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