How to Tell if You Have Woodworms?

Last Update: 29.01.2019

Woodworm are a major problem in the UK causing considerable damage to old or untreated wood. All types of wood are vulnerable to one or other species of woodworm. First off woodworm are not actually worms at all. They are the larval stage of beetles that feed exclusively on wood.

So How Can You Tell if You Have a Woodworm Problem? Here are the Sings of an Active Woodworm Problem:

Beetles are the adults of this troublesome critter. They will mate and the female will lay her eggs in cracks or pores of the wood. Familiarize yourself with what they look like. Quite often there will be dead adults lying around. As the larvae grow they will eat their way into the wood.

A fine dust is created called frass.

This is a sure sign you have current activity. This fine dust can be found near the exit holes of the eaten piece of wood. Having dust = having active woodworms making it.

Timber peppered with small holes or tunnels is probably the sign that everybody knows.

This does not necessarily mean you still have woodworm. The larvae eat their way to the surface as they get ready to change into adults. So this may mean they have already moved on. You must still get this checked by a professional. The damage has already been done and you may still have active woodworm elsewhere.

Woodworm treatment varies with species so it is important to correctly identify which one you have. If caught early enough woodworm need not be something to worry about. Get a qualified pest control technician in and they can assess the damage and treat accordingly.

Crumbling edges of wooden furniture.

This can be a tell-tale sign of a serious active woodworm infestation or a previous one that over some years has caused the eaten up wood to weaken and crumble. If you notice such a thing, call for an emergency inspection as it can get very serious very quickly, especially if you see such a problem to a wooden base or your attic or basement, or floor, or any other wooden material that is not furniture. Furniture is easy to throw away if they have a problem, but a wooden floor infected with woodworm is another thing! Long-term effects of a woodworm infestation are not to be underrated!

Seeing live or dead beetles is another sign.

If you see live beetles emerging from wooden furniture, this can mean a beetle has laid its eggs inside of it, or it’s a brand new adult beetle which has been living and eating your wooden furniture and is now ready to fly away. You may also see their larvae or eggs.

In either case, call a pest exterminator, woodworms are not treated easily on your own.

The Most Common Species of Wood Boring Beetle that can Cause You Problems Are:

  • Common Furniture Beetle. Widespread across the UK this little fella does a lot of damage, eating both soft and hard woods and not just furniture. If left unchecked it will literally eat you out of house and home.
  • The Death Watch Beetle likes seasoned hard woods such as oak, sweet chestnut and ash that have been softened by decay. This puts older structures at risk and is a common problem in historic buildings. Known for centuries this native beetle was named by the knocking noise the adults make while seeking a mate. In the Middle Ages whilst keeping vigil at a sick bed the knocking was heard. Being very superstitious people this sound was attributed to spirits watching over the dying, hence the name.
  • The Powder Post Beetle is another native that attacks hard woods. Restricted to open pored woods like oak, elm, ash and sycamore this beetle needs to lay her eggs into the pores, so needs the wider openings.
  • A recent invader is the House Longhorn Beetle. Native to mainland Europe it has now become a worldwide issue, although here it is mainly found in the south-east of Britain. Softwoods like pine and spruce are this one preferred food.

As with all pests identifying whether you have a woodworm infestation at an early stage will limit the damage done. If left untreated serious structural damage can result, which is both dangerous and costly.


There are several ways the problem can be treated.

  1. For example fumigation is one common remedy if the infestation is severe. However, this requires people and pets to vacate the premises so will only be carried out if absolutely necessary. The first course of action will be to try an insecticide applied to the surface of the infected wood.
  2. Another option is freezing but is only possible for infestations in small pieces of furniture.
We are a commercial service provider, therefore we produce content with informational purposes only. This site does not offer medical advice.

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We at Panther Pest Control use a special method for woodworm treatment – we inject a paste in the main base and foundation of the wood. It will seal all tunnels and holes made by the woodworm. This treatment has a long-lasting effect and is performed with guaranteed top quality products!

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