Have you ever wondered what it is, when going to your loft to store those Christmas decorations you notice dart holes in the roof timbers ? These dart holes, are in fact signs of woodworm infestation.
The term Woodworm is given to the one beetle – Anobium Punctatum, also known as The Common Furniture beetle. Its presence has decreased in modern, centrally-heated buildings, but ground floor voids and roof spaces, continue to be poorly ventilated and unheated, providing ideal conditions for the beetle to multiply. Woodworm attacks softwood and the sapwood of European hardwoods. The beetle invades and consumes wood and leaves when they have reached maturity.
Wood can be infected with eggs or larvae, without it being noticeable and you may not discover a woodworm infestation, for several years. It is a common misconception, that woodworm only affects old properties, in fact, it can cause damage to newly constructed buildings.
Tell tale signs of woodworm include:
- Small round holes in the woodwork, similar to the holes on a dart board.
- Fine, powdery dust around these holes, (known as frass).
- Crumbly edges, to boards and joints.
- Adult beetles emerging from the holes, or present around the house.
Adult beetles are responsible for boring the holes, when they exit wood to breed. This happens between May and September. In spring, you can check if any beetles have emerged and therefore determine, whether you have active woodworm in your timber.
Woodworm need a relatively high moisture content in the wood. At lower moisture levels, the rates of colonisation, tends to be very low and the infestation will eventually die out. Relatively dry and well ventilated timber, is at a much lower risk of infestation.
If you have found evidence of woodworm, employ a specialist timber company, or Chartered Surveyor, to determine which timbers have been structurally weakened and need replacing. Timber that has been structurally weakened, will have to be removed and replaced with pre-treated timber. Other affected woodwork, will then need to be chemically treated. Small scale treatment, can, easily be carried out as a DIY job, but professional advice is recommended, for the treatment of large scale infestation and certainly, for the removal and replacement of large timbers.
Many of the most effective insecticides, can only be obtained by certified professionals, because of posing possible environmental concerns, potentially having a damaging affect on human health and the environment.
A safe but effective treatment, is borax, a compound of boron, also known as sodium borate. This is available as a crystalline powder, which is dissolved as a 15% solution in water and applied to the affected timber. There are no health hazards associated with this treatment and borax will inhibit fungal growth, as well as killing woodworm.