Woodworm can be a nightmare for homeowners, particularly if you don’t notice the problem until they’ve bored their way right through your timbers!

If left untreated, woodworm infestations can lead to disastrous structural damage and expensive repairs, but there are ways to identify and treat woodworm before it gets to this stage.

We asked our experts at Danford, Brewer & Ives to explain the best ways to identify and fight an infestation. From identifying woodworm boreholes to surveying your timbers, here are our top ten tips for treating woodworm.

1. Woodworm Are the Larvae of Beetles

Our surveyors commonly find that homeowners don’t know what woodworm look like, or even what they actually are. It’s a common problem, but there’s no shame in not knowing what woodworm are.

The confusion starts with the name, because woodworm aren’t actually worms. Woodworm aren’t even insects, at least not fully grown ones. Woodworm are the larvae of a beetle. Different species of beetle lay eggs, and these eggs hatch into larvae, which then burrow their way into timbers and wood in search of shelter and sustenance. The woodworm hatch into fully-fledged beetles later in their lifecycle.

Understanding what woodworm are helps us to understand where they live and what we need to look for. If you find lots of beetles in your property, then you’ve probably got woodworm.

2. Woodworm Love Timbers

Although they aren’t actually worms, woodworm are found in timbers (so at least one part of the name is correct!). Beetles lay their eggs on the outside of wood or timber, and the larvae burrow their way into those timbers.

Woodworm are searching for food as they burrow and they find this in the form of cellulose, which is present in timbers. In particular, woodworm prefer damp timbers, as damp timber is much easier for them to bore through in comparison to solid timber.

If you’re hunting woodworm in your home, you should start by searching for damp or mouldy timbers on your property.

3. Woodworms Live for Years

Woodworm have a surprisingly long lifespan, and they can spend as many as five years digging holes through your timbers before they hatch into fully-fledged beetles.

It’s important to know that woodworm can be a long-term problem, so you’ll need long-term preventative practices in place to keep them out of your timbers.

This long lifespan makes identifying the source of the infestation difficult, as those boreholes you see in timbers could have been sat there for years before you noticed them. By this point, the woodworm will have moved on to fresh locations.

4. Round Holes Aren’t Always the Best Sign to Look For

The most common method for identifying a woodworm infestation is locating boreholes. These round holes are made by woodworm as they enter and exit timbers, and burrow their way deeper inside. While these round holes are a giveaway that woodworm have been in your home, they don’t necessarily indicate that there’s an active infestation.

Because of their long life span, these holes could be years old. The infestation could have passed or disappeared, or it could be larger than ever. Regardless, if you notice rounded boreholes, then you need to act as if there is an infestation. You might need an expert to help you find the real source of the woodworm though.

5. Look for Fresh ‘Frass’

One of the most important signs to look for is the presence of fresh ‘frass’ in your home. Frass is the unusual sounding name given to the droppings left behind by woodworm. So if you locate frass, you know your infestation is active and it’s nearby.

Locating frass by your rounded boreholes is an even bigger giveaway. But what does frass look like? It’s not exactly like normal droppings, but rather it’s composed of wood that’s leftover or been digested by the woodworm. This means that frass looks almost like sawdust, except it’s much thinner and finer.

Frass can form around the boreholes, but it can also drop down and pile up on the edge of skirting boards, underneath your wooden furniture, and in many other locations. If you notice an abundance of a fine, powder-like substance, then you could have a problem.

6. Woodworm Season Is April to September

Woodworm have a long lifecycle, but when it’s time for them to hatch into beetles, they’ll generally do this between April and September. This is woodworm season, and it’s when woodworm specialists are at their busiest, because this is when it’s easiest to locate and destroy infestations.

Woodworm start moving around and burrowing as they prepare to emerge from the timbers, and you’ll also start to notice more and more adult beetles appearing in your home. If you have an infestation, it will make itself apparent in some shape or form during woodworm season, but just remember the woodworm will still be there all year round if you don’t apply an effective woodworm treatment.

7. Establish the Extent of the Infestation

You can’t treat woodworm unless you know how far it’s spread, and that can be a tricky task for the inexperienced. Because they can live for years, woodworm have the potential to burrow deep into your timbers. They’re also likely to be hidden out of sight, especially if it’s taken you a long time to notice their presence.

It’s good to check parts of your home where timber are present, but that are hidden out of sight. This includes basement areas, floorboards covered by rugs or carpet, and attics and lofts.

If you notice woodworm signs in these locations, the problem could be deeper and older than you realise.

8. Act Fast if You Have a Woodworm Infestation

If you see any signs that woodworm might be burrowing their way through your timbers, you should act fast to identify the source and apply an effective woodworm treatment.

If left untreated, woodworm can cause serious long-term damage to your property. In fact, they might already have been digging through your timbers for several years before they revealed themselves to you.

Woodworm eventually eats through timbers, and this can cause important strongpoints in your home to be damaged and weakened. In severe cases, walls can fall down or the building could collapse, posing a danger not just to the home, but to anyone living inside.

Don’t ignore the tell-tale signs of woodworm; act fast and you can stop the infestation before serious damage occurs.

9. Call in Professionals if You’re Unsure

It can be difficult finding the source of a woodworm infestation or even discovering whether those rounded holes in the timber mean you’ve got an active infestation. Woodworm is not one distinct species either, there are many different types of woodworm and they might require different treatments to remove.

While you can apply your own treatment to the surface of affected timbers, you might not remove the threat at its source. There may also be hidden timbers infested with woodworm in places you never knew to look.

For these reasons, it’s always advisable to call in a woodworm professional if you notice any signs of woodworm in your home. They can conduct a thorough survey, identify the source and species of woodworm present, and start treating woodworm.

10. Prevention Is Always Preferable to Treatment

While woodworm treatment is an effective way to remove an existing infestation, it’s always preferable to prevent the occurrence of woodworm in the first place.

If left to their own devices, woodworm can cause serious long-term damage. If you need to begin treating woodworm infestations in your home, you could find that parts of your property are in need of repair once the woodworm have been removed. This can be not only time-consuming but expensive too, especially if structurally important parts of your home have been affected.

If you can prevent woodworm from becoming a problem, then you won’t need woodworm treatment and you won’t need to make repairs. A damp and timber survey carried out by professionals can help identify areas that could be susceptible to woodworm, as well as providing recommendations to help keep woodworm out in the long term.

Some prevention tactics are simple, including lowering humidity levels in your home and keeping rooms well ventilated to avoid creating the damp conditions that woodworm love.

Contact Danford Brewer & Ives for Woodworm Treatment

If you have a woodworm infestation, our woodworm treatment specialists can help. Danford, Brewer & Ives has years of experience dealing with woodworm. We can provide detailed surveys, identify woodworm, and apply effective prevention and woodworm treatment.

For more information and advice on treating woodworm infestations and the damage they can cause, please contact our friendly team on 01765 804050 or fill in our online contact form. Our technical team will be on hand with expert advice tailored to resolve your problem.