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Beetle Infestation

Beetle Infestation (Woodworm) holes

Woodworm is the wood-eating larvae of many species of beetle. It is also a generic description given to the infestation of a wooden item (normally part of a dwelling or the furniture in it) by these larvae.

Woodboring beetles with larvae commonly known as woodworms include:

  • Ambrosia beetles (weevils of the subfamilies Scolytinae and Platypodinae)
  • Woodboring weevils (Pentarthrum huttoni and Euophryum confine)
  • Bark borer beetle (Ernobius mollis)
  • Common furniture beetle (Anobium punctatum)
  • Deathwatch beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum)
  • House longhorn beetle (Hylotrupes bajulus)
  • Powderpost beetle (Lyctus brunneus)
  • Wharf borer (Narcerdes melanura)


Signs of woodworm usually consist of holes in the wooden item, with live infestations showing powder (faeces), known as frass, around the holes. The size of the holes varies, but are typically 1mm to 1.5mm in diameter for the most common household species. Adult beetles which emerged from the wood may also be found in the summer months.

Typically the adult beetles lay eggs on, or just under the surface of, a wooden item. The resulting grubs then feed on the wooden item causing both structural and cosmetic damage, before pupating and hatching as beetles which then breed, lay eggs, and repeat the process causing further damage.

As the beetles evolved consuming dead wood in various forest habitats, most grubs, if not all, typically require that the wooden item contain a higher moisture content than is normally found in wooden items in a typical home.

A building with a woodworm problem in the structure or furniture may well also have a problem with excess damp. The issue could be lack of ventilation in a roof space, cellar or other enclosed space within an otherwise dry building.

Whilst damp is a leading factor resulting in woodworm some species of woodboring insect, such as the Woodboring weevil, are only found in instances where fungal rot has already begun to occur.


Woodworm infestation is generally controlled with chemical insecticides. However, it is also advisable to investigate and solve possible damp issues, as dry wood is not usually affected, and wood that remains damp may be re-infected at a later date.

"Electrical insect killers", which attract and kill the adult beetles before they can breed, may be used alongside conventional chemical treatments with the intention of killing the adult beetles before they can breed, but the effectiveness of such an approach is not known.

Additionally, there are freezing treatments, which are quite effective, but take two to three weeks, and which can cause a certain amount of damage. They are quite costly. Low-oxygen treatment is effective, but very time consuming, up to eight weeks, and is often expensive.

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  • Common Furniture Beetle

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03 December 2020
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