Although more rare than cockroaches or rodents, woodworms are amongst the most destructive household pests.
Home owners, who have been unlucky enough to experience such infestation, know how hard it is to get rid of those pesky invaders and how the damage they do is often beyond any repair. That’s why it is crucial to understand the common reasons why woodworms might infest your home.
What is a Woodworm?
Woodworm is a collective term given to the wood boring larvae of several species of beetles, the most famous of which is the Death watch beetle.
What Causes Woodworm to Appear?
As with almost all insect larvae, these “worms” thrive in warm, humid conditions and prefer the hospitality that rotten timber has to offer. Damp environments, caused by leaks or bad insulation, can quickly cause the wood to decay and it won’t be long before woodworms settle in.
Fungal problems, such as mould and mildew, only make matters worse as they weaken the structure of the wood and make it easier for the larvae to burrow deeper.
Another reason for the infestations is keeping untreated wooden material at your property. This includes not only driftwood and firewood, but also untreated furniture items, chattels, and even structural elements.
Signs of Woodworm in Furniture
The most obvious signs of a woodworm infestation in your wooden furniture include an often visible darkening of the colour, lots of holes in the wood, a cracking sound coming from the furniture and, to top it all off, you might find one or two adult beetles nearby.
How to Tell If a Woodworm Is Active?
There exists the general misconception that once you see the holes in the wood, it means the woodworm has grown up and has left the nest.
And, in most cases, this is true. However, the same now grown-up beetle might come back and lay eggs in the place it once called home. As a result, your furniture will turn into a breeding ground for these insects.
What you should be looking for instead is an adult carcass, fresh ejected frass, and also checking the number and density of the holes.
What is the Difference Between Woodworm and Termites?
Termites and woodworms both eat wood and are equally devastating, but making a difference between the two is the first step towards coming up with the appropriate solution.
The first difference stems from the fact that a woodworm is the larvae of specific types of beetles, while termites are a very social cockroach that live in colonies.
Unlike woodworms, termites do not bore visible holes in the wooden furniture, which is why it’s harder to detect them until there are more obvious signs.
How to Get Rid of Woodworm in the Furniture
Follow those steps below to banish woodworm in furniture:
- Step 1. Scan the damages. First, you need to be sure you’re dealing with a woodworm. Are there any holes? Do you hear the occasional cracking sound from your furniture? If yes, here’s what you should do next.
- Step 2. Determine whether the furniture can be saved. Most of the time, the woodworm would be eating the most upper layers of the wood furniture, while leaving the core and possibly even the surrounding areas untouched. This way, you’ll only need to treat the specific spot. However, if the structure seems weak, it might be better to simply throw it away.
- Step 3. Purchase a commercial woodworm treatment solution containing Permethrin. The products solutions you’ll find on the market today come in large tubes and are highly concentrated. Some you will need to dilute with water and some not. Read the label carefully before use. Some products are for a specific type of woodworm, while others are universal. If you are not sure what product to buy, you can consider booking an inspection and having your timbers treated professionally.
- Step 4. Wear protective gear. You’ll need to put on a gas mask, since you’ll be working with a toxic chemical.
- Step 5. Remove finish and paint. Get some sandpaper and sand the infested section of your furniture piece. Any kind of finish or paint should be removed before applying the product.
- Step 6. Spray the solution over the damaged area. This will kill anything living inside. Recoat the surface of the damaged wood.
Home Remedies to Eradicate Woodworm
If you’re looking for a more practical and natural solution to eliminate woodworm, the following home remedies may be of help.
Since the scent of fresh acorns is quite attractive to these insects, you can take a few and wrap them in a cloth. When the breeding season begins, adults lay their eggs on the cloth, and their larvae eat the acorns as they grow. After the warm season (the time during which the woodworm reproduces) is over, the cloth and its unpleasant occupants can be disposed of.
Even though it is quite a slow method, it is effective as a complement to other treatments and it can even be used as prevention.
Another trick that works well to remove woodworm is to cover the furniture or affected pieces with plastic, leaving a small hole through which a little insecticide can be sprayed. Despite its simplicity, this technique is extremely effective.
How to Protect Furniture from Woodworm
Choosing a professional product is recommended for anyone who decides to treat this problem themselves. Sure, they are costly, but they are your best chance of treating the infestation.
But if anyone prefers to make their own product, here is what you should use for a…
DIY Woodworm Treatment
The first thing you must do is keep the room temperature dry as humidity attracts the beetles very easily.
Next, you need to melt beeswax and tint it into the colour of the wood, enough to fill in the holes. This method is sure to work as woodworms hate beeswax. However, it’s not a long term solution.
Alternatively, you may conceal the damage with ‘wood putty.’
Put sawdust into a cup and stir it together with wood glue until everything becomes a paste. Smear the mixture into the holes and immediately wipe away with a damp cloth. Let it dry out.
And, even if the woodworm is obviously gone, it would be a good idea to treat the rest of your wooden furniture with the same solution. The beetle might have simply left through the window, so pre-treat your remaining possessions just to be sure it doesn’t find itself a new nest.
Keep in mind that professional pest control exterminators know how to deal with woodworm infestations a lot faster and easier.
Header image source: Levente Nuber/shutterstock.com
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