A term used for the destructive larvae of the Common Furniture Beetle.
First sign of woodworm is the appearance of neat round holes, 2mm across, in wooden surfaces, often accompanied by tiny piles of wood dust beneath them. Fresh holes show clean white wood inside. The holes are made by emerging adult beetles, immature grubs may still be tunnelling away inside the wood.
The adult Furniture Beetle is a small brown insect 3mm to 6mm long which flies quite readily. It lays eggs on rough, unpolished wood and the grubs bore straight into the wood - leaving no trace until they emerge as beetles three years or so later, usually between May and September.
Woodworm is frequently introduced into the house in second-hand furniture, tea chests or wicker-work; but the beetles are quite capable of flying in through a window from nearby dead branches of trees. They may then attack floorboards, joinery and, more seriously, structural timbers such as rafters and joists.
Other woodborers include: Death Watch Beetle, which infests only large old hardwood beams; the House Longhorn, confined - at least for the moment - to North West Surrey; Powder Post Beetle which needs a diet of starch in certain hardwoods, and woodboring weevils, which are associated with wet rot and die out when it is treated.
Woodworm in furniture can be cured by application of proprietary woodworm killer. Coat all surfaces, polished and unpolished, and inject fluid into a few flight holes with a special injector. As a precaution against woodworm, you can buy an insecticidal polish.
Woodworm in structural timbers can be treated on a do-it-yourself basis and the proprietary fluids used by the experts are available from builders’ merchants. All timbers must be cleaned down first and any roof insulation material will have to be removed temporarily so that you can get at the joists to work on them. Also this avoids the fire-risk of insulation becoming impregnated with the fluid or small polystyrene granules dissolving together.
Cover electric cables and the cold water storage tank. Floorboards must be lifted to get at the undersides and the joists. Follow label recommendations carefully. Detailed surveys, reports and estimates are given by specialist wood preservation companies from the British Wood Preserving and Damp-proofing Association. Many cover their treatments by long term guarantees - useful evidence of treatment if you want to sell the house. It is usually wise therefore to leave structural woodworm to the experts.
Use a professional pest controller.
A term frequently misused to describe beetles in general, but actually applicable only to a distinctive group of beetles with long, pointed “snouts” which they use for boring into whole grains, hard processed cereals such as pasta, and timber.
Mainly pests of stored cereals on farms.
If you find them in foodstuffs return them to the shop and complain. The affected food should be destroyed. Spray cleared shelves with aerosol or put powder in cracks and crevices. Choose a product labelled for stored product insect control.
Use a professional pest controller.
The larvae (known as “woolly bears”) of these small, oval beetles have outstripped the clothes moths as the major British textile pest. The Variegated Carpet Beetle is 2 to 4mm long, like a small, mottled brown, grey and cream ladybird. The related Fur Beetle is black with one spot on each wing case, and there is a rarer Black Carpet Beetle.
The larvae are small (about 4mm long), covered in brown hairs, and tend to roll up when disturbed. As they grow, they moult - and the old cast-off skins may be the first sign of infestation. Adults are often seen in April, May and June, seeking egg-laying sites; and the grubs are most active in October before they hibernate.
The adult Carpet Beetle feeds only on pollen and nectar of garden flowers but lays its eggs in old birds’ nests, felt, fabric or accumulated fluff in buildings. It is the larvae from these eggs that do the damage. They feed on feathers, fur, hair, or wool and tend to wander along the pipes from roofs into airing cupboards - which house the clothes and blankets which constitute the food.
The life cycle takes about a year, and the grubs can survive starvation in hard times for several months.
Carpet beetle damage consists of fairly well-defined round holes along the seams of fabric where the grubs bite through the thread.
Check the loft and eaves for old birds’ nests or dead birds and remove them. Vacuum clean all fluff and debris from airing cupboards, shelves, floorboards, carpets and upholstery. Lift carpets and underlay and clean floor and carpet thoroughly.
An insecticide is needed to deal with woolly bears and affected items should be sprayed or dusted with a product labelled for carpet beetle control. Treat between floorboards, under carpets and under felts and into crevices where fluff may collect and attract the insects.
Consider using a professional company as these pests can cause significant damage.