Woodworm is commonly active in the wild, but rarely active in properties, rarer still in dry properties. Historic properties have wood that is normally 100 years old and of minimal interest to larvae. Since 1950 wood has been treated protecting them against rot and woodworm, not always successfully.
Tips for identifying and treating woodworm
- Wood weevil is the most common active woodworm, it does not need specific treatment. It is normally found with cellar rot, or Coniophora puteana. The only effective treatment for wood weevil is to remove the rot, which entails removing the source of moisture.
- Anobium punctatum, or common furniture beetle is also common, but unlikely to be active, most activity took place before 1950.
- Activity can be determine by looking for:
- fresh frass underneath exit holes (little 1mm wood coloured ballers or lemon shaped excretion from wood) and
- the edge of the exit hole will be serrated.
- Occasionally dead beetles can be seen by windows,
- A longer term test for activity is to paint or cover exist holes with paper, to see if there are any holes reappear. Beetles exit between March and end of June.
- If there is woodworm, then the best treatment is permethrin costing £7. Permethrin is used by professionals and parents for treating all insects from woodworm, mosquitoes to children’s nits.
- There are almost no other active infestations in the house, with the rare exception of Death watch beetle found in large oak beams, mainly in churches or similar, old properties.
- Death watch beetles are found deep within the timber, normally oak suffering from Donkioporia fungus.
- Death watch beetles don’t necessarily exit during a life cycle.
- The best identification for death watch beetle is using a listening device when it is quiet outside.
- The treatment for death watch beetle is to drill into the timber and install a boron rod. A specialist should be contacted.
- For other beetles, damaged wood is brought into the home. The insect activity takes place in the forest or after being felled such as in timber yards. Sawn timber with exposed holes can be brought into the home. This damage is rarely considered a defect for claim purposes and reproduction normally ceases within the home.
- The most important tip, is paint or cover woodworm holes, so that you know for sure if woodworm is active or not active. Otherwise you will be stung for £500 to £1,000 when you try to sell, often at the last minute.
- Damp treatment companies are not motivated to differentiate between active and inactive woodworm and
- RICS surveyors rarely know the difference.