Understanding Woodworm

You might have read that tiny holes in timber equal woodworm infestation. Before you start panicking and calling a timber-treatment firm, just hold on a second.

Seeing holes in timber is not necessarily a sign that wood-boring insects have taken residence in your house. On the contrary, those ‘flight holes’ indicate that the beetles have matured and munched their way out so you may be looking at the remnants of a past infestation.

Secondly, if you do have an infestation and are worried about it spreading to other timber in your home, don’t be as it isn’t the way it works.

Woodworms (also known as common furniture beetle or Anobium punctatum) will only choose timber with excess moisture as it provides more nutrition. The female will lay her eggs there, which will take up to three years to mature and leave.

In reality, all timber in homes, be it beams or furniture, will naturally dry out and be unsuitable to host larvae and woodworms are more likely to choose trees or recently felt branches rather than moving in with you. In addition, modern wood is treated to prevent infestation by wood-bearing insects which makes it even less hospitable. The only time when timber might be a risk is if your home has a damp problem or poor ventilation, and the priority should be to find out what causes the dampness and eliminate it as a woodworm treatment will only have a temporary effect.

If you buy antique furniture, you may notice woodworm holes in some pieces and that’s nothing to worry about as it is very likely to be a past problem. At a time when timber wasn’t treated, it may well be that the tree itself had been infested even before it was cut down and transformed into a chair.