Woodworm, what is it and what do I do?



Even though most properties in Singapore are HDB flats and  made of concrete your doors and furniture are still at risk of been infected with woodworm. If you’re living in an older property with exposed beams then there’s a pretty high chance you’ll spot a few tiny holes dotted all across the wooden surface. Many people will assume that this means they've got a full blown woodworm infestation, this may not necessarily be the case. Woodworm are particularly destructive to different types of soft woods, they can also destroy items made with various kinds of hard wood. Treating wood products for woodworm in advance can minimise the chances of an infestation, and also help to limit the amount of damage done in the event that woodworm is already present.  

What is woodworm? 

Woodworm are the larvae of beetles who feast on wood. How the process works is that the beetles enter the wood, finds a nice damp spot, then lays eggs which hatch into larvae. These little chaps then spend their lives burrowing around in your wood, before pupating, hatching and then making a hole in the wood from which to escape. So the tiny holes you see are actually an indication you have had woodworm, not necessarily that you still have them. 

Types of woodworm:
  • The common furniture beetle: These tend to like old furniture, damp floorboards or loft timbers.
  • Deathwatch beetle: which tends to go for wet decaying hardwoods, such as ash, oak and chestnut.
  • The house longhorn beetle: which likes softwood in roof timbers and is primarily found around the Surrey area. You can spot the house longhorn beetle by the larger holes and increased structural damage.
Read more on types of woodworm. 

How do I spot woodworm? 

Look out for small amounts of powdery dust near the holes, This will suggest that woodworm have been recently boring in that spot. Also if you find there are lots of tiny flying beetles around your home, these may well have a more local origin than you might want! Removing some of the wood to see if there are larvae just under the surface is a sure fire way of identifying a problem. Alternatively try taping over some of the holes, wait for the change in seasons and when the beetles emerge, you can check to see if any have got trapped beneath the masking tape. So, once you’ve identified that there are indeed woodworm present, what’s the best way to fix the problem? Well that depends on what kind of woodworm it is you have. 

Treatment 

What you need will rely entirely on the type of woodworm you have, while the common furniture beetle rarely causes serious structural damage, the deathwatch beetle bores deep into the heart of the wood, creating serious problems. The chemicals used in woodworm treatment can be dangerous,  so before you go about treating your woodworm you are best off getting an expert in. Most treatments will not necessarily kill all of the woodworm present, but they will break the cycle by making the wood an inhospitable place for the beetle’s eggs. This may mean that there are still woodworm yet to bore their way out of your wood and as there is a 3-5 year life cycle this could mean you still have woodworm to put up with for awhile. The good news is that when these woodworm come to reproduce, they won’t choose to do it in your wood.

Prevention 

Prevention is always better than treatment. The best preventive measure is good ventilation, which will prevent timber building up the moisture it needs to be an appealing home to beetles. For this you’d be well advised to purchase a timber moisture meter, any reading above 12 per cent on this will indicate that your wood is at risk from woodworm.


Tip

After finishing the woodworm treatment, allow up to a full day for the solution to settle into the wood and kill any lingering beetles that may be remain in the flight.


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