Insects that attack timbers have been around since time began (well almost), though of course these will have been confined mostly to forest and woodland habitats.

As we know timber is a major building material in our properties and as a result of this we have effectively laid out these insect’s food material in extensive amounts (joists, floorboards, joinery and roof timbers) these are all available for insects to infest. We encourage attack further by placing these timbers in areas where dampness can occur e.g. ground floors and roofs, and sometimes in areas where leakage of water onto local timbers can occur too e.g. bathrooms and kitchens. However, timbers do not necessarily need to be damp to become infested; it’s also a fallacy that central heating will save your house from woodworm infestation.
Properties in a woodland or rural area may be more susceptible to infestation also.

The wood boring insects that usually affect timber in properties are:

  • Common furniture beetle (anobium punctatum) this is more commonly known as woodworm and is by far the most common type of beetle to infest properties.
  • Deathwatch Beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum) ‘woodworm’s’ older brother that usually confines itself to attacking Oak and Elm (though adult beetles emerging through an attached piece of softwood is not uncommon).
  • House Longhorn Beetle (Hylotrupes bajulus), fortunately this extremely damaging beetle is confined to areas of North Surrey only. Specialist treatments are usually always required.
  • Lyctus Powderpost Beetle (Lyctus brunneus) this beetle only attacks tropical hardwoods, treatments are not always necessary as it is unlikely to thrive in the climate and will usually die out naturally. We’ve usually found it in imported wooden furniture or ornaments.
  • Bark Borer Beetle (Ernobius mollis) , this is not a wood boring beetle as such and does not require any chemical treatments at all. It’s usually found in roof timbers.
  • Wood boring Weevil (Pentarthrum huttoni) this beetle only attacks rotten timber, so by replacing the rotten wood,the infestation is eradicated. Wood boring weevil is also classed by some as a secondary insect

There are many garden and other insects that end up in households that can look like a wood boring insect, and whilst you may need to carry out some kind of treatment to eradicate them, you wouldn’t need to carry out preservative treatments to the timbers.

This is why the correct identification is so important.

How do we treat it?

Once we have identified that treatments are required we will usually use an aqueous woodworm killer fluid, this is usually a liquid insecticide containing cypermethrin that is applied by coarse spray directly onto the timber’s surface.
We can also use high loading and deep penetrating gels or pastes, these are applied close to inaccessible timbers (e.g. joist ends) these treatments have the ability to diffuse into the inaccessible timber.
There are of course many other types of treatment available to us for specific problems or site conditions.

Spray treatment to timbers is a relatively easy process, but it can be disrupting to the property occupants as everything (carpets, other floor coverings, furniture, fixings and etc.) has to be moved, or movable, to gain access to the surface of the timbers to be treated.

The treatments we use nowadays are virtually odour free. The treated areas can be reoccupied in as little time as an hour though our guidelines are to keep out of the treated areas for a minimum of 8 hours or ‘until the timbers are dry’

Pre-treatment of timbers with an insecticide will prevent infestation but in older properties treated timbers have not usually been used in the original construction of the building. The way older buildings are built may encourage various forms of dampness to occur and insect infestation in these older properties is not unusual.

Treatment and replacement of timbers requires specialist advice to ensure that the correct treatment is given, as we’ve already mentioned some insect attacks do not need any chemical treatments, therefore correct identification of the infestation is absolutely critical.

© Copyright Cook Group Ltd

Woodworm Treatment and Control 9th January 2019