Common Furniture Beetle (woodworm), infestation; Quick guide for consumers and surveyors too.

WOODWORM!  oh dear, it is a scary name for sure.  Fortunately it’s not usually as big a problem as first appears, however, there are exceptions.

In severe cases the damage this tiny insect can cause is quite shocking. This year I’ve already been involved in several pretty extensive repairs, including a complete renewal of a ground floor in a bungalow in Garforth near Leeds; every room in the house had to have all the floorboards and floor joists stripped out and replaced in new timber. That’s one of the floorboards below…

heavy infestation of Woodworm in a floorboard removed from a house in Leeds in Leeds

Common Furniture Beetle (woodworm), infestation. copyright Brick-Tie Preservation 2011

Most of the time though, remedial work involves replacement of the odd floorboard or two and a spray with a suitable HSE approved insecticide.

The thing is, Common Furniture Beetle (its common generic name), is happiest when infesting damp, deadwood, strewn over a forest floor, rather than the dry stuff in houses. Wild wood is wet and subject to fungal and microbial attack, so CFB can thrive within the timber; reducing the wood to hollowed-out trash in short order.

When timber in a building is infested, conditions for the insect are not usually ideal.  As a result progress is usually slow, with a higher natural mortality rate, slower growth and less damage from each generation of activity.  However, not much moisture is needed to help things along, if there is any excess moisture present, woodworm will thrive.

In houses that means that particular care is needed under poorly ventilated floors, shower rooms, bathrooms and such. It’s not unusual to find a light to moderate infestation in a house and then discover that the sections of floor under the kitchen sink or shower tray are very heavily infested, often with structural damage.

 

Active common furniture beetle infestation in a floor with frass contamination of cobwbs below.

Note the contamination of cobwebs by the frass ejected by emerging adult woodworm beetles. copyright Brick-Tie preservation 2011

The problem is compounded by the female insects habit of laying eggs in the old flight holes left from the previous generation.  Thus the infestation gets going faster in damp areas, then accelerates again with each laying season.

There are some who say that woodworm is not a problem in centrally heated houses; this is not supported by any evidence I’ve seen over the last 30 odd years. I’ve seen it in everything from small back-to-backs and terraces in Armley, Roundhay and Harehills, through to rural cottages and the posh des res in Wetherby, Allwoodley and Harrogate – wood is food for these guys and whilst moisture content plays a big part, it will happily survive and even prosper in relatively dry wood.

Remember that wood is hygroscopic, so it will quickly absorb moisture vapour from air – it does not need to be physically splashed with water to become moist.

What are we looking for?

The holes seen below are typical of CFB. However, in practice it’s surprising how they can be missed.  To have the best chance of seeing them use a torch and don’t shine the torch straight at the wood.  Hold the torch flat against the surface so the light is shed across the surface, rather than directly at it.  This will throw any undulations, bumps and holes into relief and they show up much more easily.

Example of what active infestations may look like

See the highlighted flight holes? These are new and indicate recent emergence. Copyright Brick-Tie preservation 2011

Also, remember that any piece of wood is divided into sections; Heartwood and sapwood.  Heartwood is from the middle of the tree and is usually a little darker in colour and denser.  This is due to the waste products deposited in the ‘core’ by the tree as it grows (all trees grow by adding new wood under the bark, around the outside – sort of like an onion adding another layer to the existing mass. The Heartwood is less palatable to woodworm (provided it’s not rotting due to fungal attack, in which case it’s fair game).

The sapwood on the other hand is new and fresh at the point the tree is felled. I suppose it’s a bit like meat; most of us prefer spring lamb to tired old mutton. Sapwood is full of the sugars and nutrients the tree was using to grow and the wood is less dense and contains none of the toxins which are in the heartwood – sapwood, particularly moist sapwood is woodworm central.

Let’s go hunting for Common Furniture Beetle.

Floors.

Underneath the floor is the best place to look for the small holes, but if that’s not very accessible, try looking around the edges, especially under windows (adults usually fly to light and white colours like window sills), around the WC pan, next to the shower tray etc., here is where the holes will eventually appear, even if the first generation emerged elsewhere.

If you have a cellar, then you are at higher risk;. Cellars are where the firewood was stored and that’s where most of the woodworms gets introduced to the home environment.  The cellar ceiling may be made of lime plastered timber laths.  These are pure sapwood, often  ‘riven’ from the edges of raw logs (you can tell this if the laths have undulating edges, rather than flat square ones). If woodworm is in these, it emerges into the void above, which is a cosy environment and they have a good chance of meeting the love of their lives and laying eggs in the void – concentrating the infestation. Joinery in cellars may be unpainted and will have a higher moisture content, so check it all.

In the Roof

Anywhere, but for starters try the ceiling joists and trimmers around the access hatch and the spars next to the chimney (where it may be moist and where light may leak in). Any light when you turn your torch off?  Have a look there. Look out for any spars with ‘wany edges’, where the bark has been.  This indicates very high sapwood content. If you find something here though, check it’s not just Bark Borer Beetle, which is the civilised cousin of woodworm and quite harmless.

An example of damage by Bark Borer Beetle infestation in a loft in Wetherby, West Yorkshire.

Harmless Bark Borer Ernobius mollis infestation (not woodworm). copyright Brick-Tie Limited 2009

Timber staircases.

Anywhere of course, but look at the edges of the treads in particular; the treads and rises are often ‘flat sawn’ so the curved (bullnose), edge of the treads may have a high sapwood content, which is ideal for woodworm to thrive in. Do look at the stair strings and joinery too though.

In other products.

Not only solid timber is attacked – woodworm is very partial to old plywood. In the past plywood was glued with casein, which is basically stewed animals. The sandwich, of this goo and cheap timber, which is unsuitable for conversion to anything else (high sapwood content again), is perfect woodworm fodder. Electricity and gas meter boards, panelling under stairs and in old pantries and such are all places to check.  When I first trained as a timber infestation surveyor, back in the early eighties I was privileged to visit The Princess Risborough laboratories, where many of the treatments and research in woodwork control were developed. The scientists used rack after rack of casein glued plywood to breed woodworm for testing treatments on.

So you’ve found holes and think it maybe woodworm? Ideally call in a specialist surveyor who at least has CSRT or CTIS certification.  Most companies who are members of the Property Care Association will have this minimum qualification. Don’t entertain anyone who spends time and money advertising themselves as a specialist, if he hasn’t the time or money or sufficient respect for you, to bother getting qualified.

Is the woodworm active? This is where some skill comes in. CFB has a breeding season just like many creatures. This is the ‘flight season’ when mature larvae pupate below the surface of the wood and emerge as beetles to mate and lay eggs. Summer is the season of love, but the period is a bit flexible in houses, due to heating and such, so you may get fresh holes anytime between about May, through to September. New holes are usually part filled with ‘frass’ which is the poo of woodworm.  A trained specialist can identify the species of the infestation just from the texture, size and colour of the pellets. The size and shape of the ‘flight holes’ is also crucial of course.

There are some who say that active woodworm can only be proved if “living larvae are found’. This is literally correct, but in practice living larvae are difficult to get at; being happy deep in the wood.  It takes ages to carefully dissect wood to find them and afterwards the wood is destroyed, whether you are successful or not (plywood is an exception, just peel away the layers and hey presto; exposed juicy larvae just fall out). An experienced specialist will access the situation and make a judgment based on a number of factors:

Any adult carcasses

Fresh ejected frass

Number and density of the flight holes and ‘the look’ of them

Risk assessment of the chance of leaving the infestation as opposed to treating it.

He should then be able to provide a recommendation based on sensible methodology – it is not good practice to just recommend treatment whenever flight holes are found.  If a surveyor recommends treatment or diagnoses woodworm and does not recommend treatment, ask why – he should have a reason for any recommendation.

Example of how to spot 'active' woodworm infestation (Harrogate).

A roof void in Harrogate, with very obvious infestation by Common Furniture Beetle (woodworm). copyright Brick-Tie Preservation 2010

Example of more recent woodworm activity

If you see something like this when you lift the carpet – call a specialist (or treat it yourself if you have the confidence to do it). copyright Brick-Tie Limited 2006

Beware unqualified ‘specialislist’ recommending widespread treatment for “woodworm”.  Make sure that the surveyor identifies the species infesting the timber including the latin name so there’s no confusion – see this previous post to see how much can be saved if you take care and avoid being conned – what is woodworm?

Treatment.

I’ve treated many hundreds of infestations over the last three decades. I don’t have two heads and as far as I know, nether do my sperm. There’s been lots of publicity; shouting about how dangerous the chemicals used for woodworm treatment are. Publicity is often another word for rubbish – just read the Daily Mail or The Daily Star for example.

The facts are that there is no link between any of the modern Health & Safety executive approved treatments and ill health. I wouldn’t drink the stuff we use, just as I wouldn’t drink bleach or after shave (I’ve drunk most other things though).  It must be used only when needed and must be applied by trained and certified technicians, under the guidance of a qualified surveyor. If that is done there is no risk to you. Technicians, using the stuff every day are at risk of course, so that is why they are togged up like astronauts.

Cats and goldfish are exceptions – cats have died as a result of permethrin toxicosis when tolerant dog flea powder has been mistakenly applied to them. Permethrin is very dangerous to aquatic life.  This needs to be taken into consideration when it is used and especially when waste product is disposed of. It is safe once it is dried into the wood; cats are at risk during treatment and for a short time after though (this is less to do with permethrin than cats – they also drop dead because they love drinking anti-freeze…..  I have two cats and they are both weirdo’s).

Modern treatments include a variety of chemicals, though for most infestations I recommend a Permethrin based insecticide. Permethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid with very low mammalian toxicity (cats excepted), It kills woodworm stone cold though. It is a contact insecticide so it will protect wood from re-infestation and will kill adults emerging from below during the flight season.  A thorough spray to ‘run off’ is all that’s required.

Safeguard's proven Soluguard permethrin based woodworm treatment.

Modern treatments like SoluGuard are come in handy soluble packaging to reduce waste. copyright preservationexpert 2011

Boron products work well too, though these need to be ingested so are less effective on severe infestations; they have a dual action though, inhibiting fungal growth too. It’s a question of balance and a decent timber infestation surveyor will make a judgement on the most appropriate product.

I’ve gone on a bit, but do please ask if there’s anything else you’d like to know. I survey anywhere in  the Yorkshire area, so you can always give me a call at Brick-Tie preservation if you need specific advice or a survey.  Outside Yorkshire, try the Property Care Association Web site, which has a nice ‘find a contractor’ and ‘find a consultant’ section; just type in the area and you’ll get a list of my fellow members.

Dry Rot.

Comments

  1. Dave Bains says:

    Hi, before I try to greed some knowledge from yourself, can I just say what an interesting and informative website you have developed. I initially was just looking for woodworm information, but have been lost amongst your site for over an hour reading the different blogs, fantastic!
    Anyway, on with a question. How long would you say the lifecycle of the powderpost beetle was as it seems to varie wherever I look. Rreason I ask is I have just ‘developed’ 20-30 flight holes in an oak floor layed in 2008, I am still trying to work out if they were present in the wood before I purchased it or not. I beleive they are powderpost beetles due to catching 2 of them with my cunning trap I designed, and am going to copyright and market as the ‘upside-down glass on floor woodworm trap’.
    Many thanks for taking the time to read this, and also for taking the time to make such an informative and interesting website.
    Dave

  2. Dry Rot says:

    Hi,

    Thank you for your kind comments about my blog.

    I come across powder post maybe once or twice a year – if that.

    The best article I know is by my good friend Graham Coleman. Graham is our industry guru and whilst he is always telling me he is not a surveyor (which I am), he is the real deal when it comes to the science of damp and timber infestations.

    The fact is that these days we never see powder post infesting timbers in situ – it always comes into the house with the flooring or whatever.

    Life cycles vary so don’t be fobbed off with the 12 months one – it can take much longer for the insects to reach maturity in dry timber with lower than optimum protein and starch.

    Read this – http://www.buildingpreservation.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=32%3Ais-powder-post-beetle-making-a-comeback-&catid=4%3Atimber-infestation&Itemid=28

    Good luck and thanks again for looking in.

    • Helena Gillis says:

      Hi.

      Can you help. We bought reclaimed Canadian Maple for our house in Edinburgh. Quite a lot was left over, and it has been stored in an outbuilding for a year. We are now moving and I am planning to take the remainder of the boards with us to use in a bathroom. My partner is worried about using the reclaimed wood our future (timber- framed built approx 1700) home, especially as the house is timber framed. How can we be sure (spending as little money as possible) that the reclaimed wood is not currently infested with wood worm, and what would be suitable treatment to ensure that the wood does not get infested in future? Do we need to use specialists to install the floor?

      Would new wood be any safer (is would it be any less likely to contain woodworm or be more likely to become infected with woodworm in the future) to use in our future home, rather than the reclaimed wood?

      The reclaimed wood is beautiful and it would be a shame not to use it, but it would be great to have reassurance and advice about its safe use.

      • Dry Rot says:

        Hi Helena,

        Don’t throw it away – use it.

        Even a couple of brush coats of a DIY woodworm fluid from B&Q or similar will work here. Once that is done then the timber will not be a potential source of infestation in your new house. Look at the label and you want to use ‘Permethrin’. It will kill the insects on emergence. If you plan sanding the wood do this before treatment.

        Always read the instructions and folloow all advice on it.

        best regards

        bryan

  3. Hi Brian,

    Great website and excellent learning tool.

    I am a HI and complete Home Condition Surveys. These blogs really enforces my learning and far better than reading boring text books. I plead guilty to not being CSRT or CTIS qualified, but hey you got to start somewhere. I intend to get there… it will take some time.

    When I find damp and if the problem is not straight forward; then I always recommend a PCA specialist where further investigation is required. I hate doing it, but sometimes damp is not always as simple as it seems.

    keep the blogs going. Thanks

    rgds Ed

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Ed,

      Thanks for looking in and for your kind comments.

      If you feel you are benefiting from my blog posts then the blog is a success; that’s what it’s for. Please do keep looking in and if there is any sticky preservation issue you need help with, please ask. Can’t promise to know all the answers though, but it can be fun finding new stuff; even at my age.

      Try getting down to the PCA for the damp and condensation workshop before this ‘season’ starts – well worth the trip and course fee.

  4. Andy Pocock says:

    Hello,

    Very informative website – been searching the web for a while, and this is by far the most helpful I have found on the subject.

    We are in the process of buying a house and the survey reported a potential active infestation. Since the property is under a guarantee, we asked the company to inspect the property. They have concluded that the infestation is not active, and therefore do not recommend any fuyrther action, however intend to get a second opinion.

    Also, since the guarantee expires in roughly 18 months (treatment was carried out 28 years ago), we felt that it worth renewing the treatment, given the property will be completely empty. Is this a sensible course of action, and how much would you expect this to cost for a small 3 bedroom house? I appreciate this is difficult to estimate, but I have seen website forums stating they have received quotes varying from £200-7,500 for similar sized properties.

    Many thanks,
    Andy

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Andy,

      Thanks for your comment and I am glad you have found my blog useful.

      The thing is that woodworm is relatively easy to treat and if it has been treated that long ago and by a firm who are still trading and were there to check it for you well, that is encouraging.
      Old flight holes look…. old. So if there are no very fresh looking holes there is no reason to re-treat.

      In fact treatment as a precaution could be illegal if there is not good cause for it (COSHH regulations), and I rarely recommend it.

      The best bet is keep the written assurances they have given you and find a nice wormy looking bit of timber… cover that with toilet tissue stuck on with a mix of flour and water (yes really), and after the summer is over have a look and see if any new holes have emerged through the paper – easy.

      Best wishes in your new home

      Bryan

  5. Thank you for your informative site. I have been told that I have an active infestation by my surveyor and will require permethrin under the floor boards via my cellar and boron on the floorboards within my house, Is there any danger in mixing the chemicals. Also do you know of an effective “green” equivalent in effectiveness to eradicate the furniture beetle,

    Thank you

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Susi,

      The chemicals should not be mixed. Boron is a stomach poison and I wouldn’t normaly recommend it for woodworm alone. It is a great fungicied though. Permethrin is very safe if used correctly. I’m afraid that ‘green’ does not apply to any pesticide. Beware so called green solutions – they are often untested and may be more harmful than the very carefully tested synthetic pyrethroyds.

      Bryan

  6. sarah poplar says:

    Excellent website.

    I have woodworm holes on the underside of stairs. I cannot tell if they are new or old- no waste on the surface but being the underside it may not stay on the surface? Do you have any tips on how I could treat this bearing in mind the top side of the stairs in carpeted?
    Many thanks

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for looking in. If you are sure they are ‘woodworm’ holes why not just stick cling film loosely or paper over the holes and leave these for the summer? If new holes appear through the paper, or you find beetles trapped in the clingfilm when you check in late September you will know that there is activity – easy. They are not like cartoon termites and the progress is slow, so unless there are lots of holes or you are in a hurry this is fine. Also why not ask a surveyor from the PCA (Property Care Association), web site to look for you? Remember that you are not under obligation to take on whatever is suggested but it wont harm getting someone qualified to look at it.

      best regards

      Bryan.

  7. You want to see the 1960s solid wood cupboard I have just ripped out of my garage as its been dropping dust everywhere, it was so invested the wood was so light and just tapping the unit great clouds of powder came out of the holes, it took no time at all to just to hammer the whole thing out into a mass puke of hollow wood, there were hundreds of thousands of little white worm things about 5mm long when I peeled 1 layer of ply wood off, got rid of the whole lot in garage (which is concrete) and burnt everything to kill the little blighters, was a nice cupboard about 7 years ago, not now.

  8. Hi, very useful page, thanks. We’re currently redecorating our house, built 1900. Extensive replastering in April meant.damp carpets which were ripped out straight after. Last two weeks have found ~20 live adult wood worm.beetles, mostly downstairs, though upstairs has been redecorated too. Can’t find any exit holes on top surface of floorboards. Tough question but was wondering if you had an opinion on whether this may just be adults looking to take advantage of exposed floor; or emerging from underside of floor and this many would count as a problem? Thanks, bit worried- have cats and a baby due soon. Need to make a decision on treatment.

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Kat,

      This needs further investigation. I’d recommend you visit the Property Care Association web site and use the find a member widget. A contractor or an independent surveyor should be asked to check the beetles to make sure they are actually woodworm and not something else. Then maybe a timber survey if needed.

      I would never recommend treatment just because you have found beetles.

      Let me know how you get on…

      best regards

      Bryan

  9. Cat Lover says:

    I’ve just found two beetles, pretty sure they’re CFBs, looking like they were about to mate. I looked again and saw a third poking out of a hole. (They’re trapped in a plastic pot, and now they are mating!)

    We have an old house (300 yrs, stone and slate), and it’s damp. I don’t think our infestion is limited to one place, I think there’s some in the exposed roof beams in one of the bedrooms and I found today’s CFBs by some panelling by the front door, and there are a few (old, I think) holes in the wall on the upstairs landing. I don’t even want to think about the roof.

    We also have cats who live in, so my question is, is there a safe effective treatment for these little beggars? (beetles, not the cats). It wouldn’t be practical to remove the cats, too many for a cattery.

    How persistent is permethrin? Is there something as effective and safe around cats?

    Brilliant site, BTW.

    Thanks

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Cat lover?

      Permethrin is lethal to cats – that’s why you should never use dog flea powder on them as it contains it.

      However, wood treated wit permethrin which has soaked in and dried is not dangerous to them. if it were that toxic then simply using many household fly sprays wold leave lethal residues for them – just doesn’t happen.

      permethrin is a great woodworm treatment so don’t discount it. In over 20 years of using permethrin regularly, I’ve never harmed a clients cat. Some common sense is needed. keep the cats out during treatment and for 48 hours after. Although HSE approve 1 hour re-entry fluids I’d recommend 48 hours for cats and babies – just to be extra safe. If they can’t be removed then brush application rather than spraying and cover the wood with plastic sheeting so the cats can’t get contaminated by the fluid.

      There are other chemicals like flurox and Boron but they rely on ingestion, whereas permethrin is a contact insecticide. I am not convinced that anything more than a light infestation or precautionary treatment of infested wood is suitable for these (boron is a dual effect and superb against fungus though, so we use it quite often).

      Good luck with it – you can have a go yourself or call a PCA member like me or many others. See the Property Care Association web site.

      best regards
      Dry Rot.

  10. Carrie says:

    Hi

    Just doing some research on a tiny beetle I keep coming across in the ground floor of my house during the summer. I believe through what I’ve read online that they are woodworm (I originally thought they were biscuit beetles). After looking around my home I am unable to find any holes but I can’t access my floor boards without ripping up and ruining all my floor coverings. Is I possible that it could still be woodworm without visible holes?

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Carrie,

      sorry for the delay I have been on Holiday.

      Why not get a local PCA member to come and look? A Property Care Association member should send a CSRT or CTIS surveyor who will let you know what they are. You cannot have woodworm beetles without holes somewhere, but with a magnifying glass you should be able to identify them quite easily. Don’t panic just yet but do get a professional opinion.

      Bryan

  11. Hi,

    really useful page! I bought a Sheesham Indian Rosewood bed and side tables about a year ago. Over the past few months I have noticed a fair bit of dust around the tables but I just put that down to them being new. However, in the last few days I have found small dead and live brown beetles surrounding them, along with quite a lot of dust with very small but visible brown pellets in. I can also see a number of bore holes down the side. When I stick a pin into them it doesn’t go in far at all. After looking around online a bit I have diagnosed this as the CFB. The bed doesn’t seem to be affected. I would like to know how best to treat it, or if I am best off returning or getting rid of the furniture. Our apartment is newly renovated with wooden laminate floors and I am worried about it spreading even if treated?! I also wanted to ask if now is the best time to treat it, as the infestation is obviously active!

    Your help is very much appreciated! Thanks!

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Amy,

      I’ve been on holiday so sorry for the delay.

      There are lots of beetles which can emerge from furniture and are not CFB. Pinhole borers and such. Also various wood wasps. These do not re-infest the wood or other items.

      I would recommend that yo get a local PCA member to look at them for you or get the environmental health officer from your local authority to check them out.

      Laminate is not wood so woodworm don’t lay eggs on it 🙂

      Best regards
      Bryan

  12. David says:

    Hi – thanks for the interesting and very informative website….good stuff..

    I think we have some woodworm slowly munching their way through the odd floorboard in our old house and was wondering if you could recommend a suitable person / company to come and have a quick look to recommend corrective action, etc? It would be great if you or your guys could come, but as we’re in south Manchester I don’t think that’s be cost effective for either of us, no?

    Any help would be gratefully received.

    Many thanks
    David

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi David,

      Use the find a contractor widget on the Property Care Association web site – you type in ypur postcode and a list of firms will come up. One firm I know are BAR Preservation who are PCA members, also Olympic Construction, who are members also.

      Thanks for getting in touch

      Bryan

  13. Maxine says:

    Hi,

    We had our house rebuilt nearly 3 years ago with all new wood floors from Russia. On just one floorboard we keep finding small piles of dust but can’t really see anything else.

    As the house is new I dread the thought of having to take up floorboards, please can you advise what would be the best course of action.

    Thanks
    Maxine

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Maxine,

      Don’t panic. You should be able to find a local Property Care Association contractor or independent surveyor to help you. Tell them you want the infestation identified precisely. It could be a number of infestations, many of which are harmless – but some can do damage so it is worth getting it properly looked at.

      let me know how you get on please.

      The PCA web site has a nice ‘find a contractor’ widget so you just type in your post code and hey presto!

      best regards and thanks for looking in.

      Bryan

  14. luciano says:

    Hi!

    Thanks for your useful informations and for your website!

    I’m from Italy where I built a mountain house using a lot of old wood for coating walls and on the roof and new multi layer timber oak on the floor ( guaranteed as woodworm free by the delivery house) glued to the cement

    During the construction the building firm assured me that it has painted all the wood with permethrin liquid as woodworm treatment.

    Despite all the guarantee we are discovering both in the floor and the wood of the chemin new holes and wood dust and during the night we hear sound that seem consequence of woodworm eating wood.

    Considered that is quite impossible to remove wood from the floor and from the roof , I consider quite impossible to eliminate existing woodworm ( making exception of using microwave process that anyway cost a lot considering the amount of surface we have ) .

    DO you think that could be correct operate only in order to avoid new wood worm reproduction waiting that the already present woodworm die ( 3-5 years) ?

    On that assumption , also considering that in some wood ( i’m not sure in all the timber ) some permethrin should be already present , I thought to spray on all the surfaces Boron at 10% in order to prevent new eggs

    I choose boron because it is simple to spray, safe enough for the operator ( myself) , also useful against mold and as fire retardant. ( it seems to me that there are not contraindications).

    Questions

    -Is this approach valid in your opinion?
    -Could boron damage wood surface treated with transparent paint ( as the floor ) or covered with liquid wax as coating?
    -Do you have any other suggestions?

    Thank in advance for you kind attention

    Luciano

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Luciano,

      Thank you for getting in touch. As uyu have not said whether the wood is softwood or hardwood I will assume both. 10% boron treatment is effective against egg laying but as it is often mixed with glycol, you may have problems with paints and stains. I never recommend it as an erradicant.

      I would suggest a re-spray to ‘run-off’ using permethrin. This is very effective and there will be no egg laying and very little if any emergence, as it kills on contact and doesn’t need to be ingested. Used as per the manufacturers instructions it is safe, but do ensure there are no cats of fish tanks nearby as it is very bad for them. Though once dried off it is then harmless.

      Good luck with it and thanks again for visiting my blog

      Bryan

  15. Matthew says:

    Hello,

    I’ve got a bit obsessive researching woodworm since I found out that the family home I have inherited has a mild/ moderate infestation and I have to say (as others here have done also that this is the most informative site I have found for advice so thank you!

    I have ordered a decent pump up sprayer with a 3ft lance and think I will be getting some Soluguard. Can you recommend a respirator mask and a ‘suit’ to wear?

    I am doing the job myself to save a few quid and because I have doubts about whether the professionals would take the time required to get into every little nook and cranny in the loft. However I am a very novice DIYer and a bit of a hyperchondriac. It will take me several hours to spray the 70sq metre loft once. Will I be safe up there, (with the mist from the spray) and how long should I leave it before applying a second coat?

    Thanks again for your very informative website.

  16. First of all thank you for the wealth of information that you put together. I have found your site to be very well written as well as amusing at times making for very pleasant reading for a subject like this. Good job!
    You obviously know your onions as they say and so I would really love to ask your opinion if I may:
    I live in an 130 year old stone house that used to be some sort of farm building. It is long and low with the ground floor being used to store firewood and basically being used in the same way one would use a barn, whilst the first floor is renovated (ten years ago) into a living space, there is also some attic space above that. I have been there for two years now but this summer I became aware of a scraping sound and eventually located some holes with frass in my bathroom beam and later this noise was heard next door in my toilet coming from a beam there. Around the same time after hearing the same noise on my terrace, a further exit hole was found on my terrace which had come through a new piece of wood installed the previous year when I had some roof repairs done.
    I really do not know if I should be worried. On one hand the building is so old and hasnt fallen down yet but on the other hand after doing some reading, I learned that eggs can lay in the wood for ten years with some types of beetle and as the building renovations happened ten years ago now it might make sense that they have been there so long, they have to come out now? I heard 3 beetles this year and none the previous year. I’m no expert of course but I think this may be a wood boring beetle rather than wood worm but I really wouldn’t know. My issue is that living in the Czech Republic as I do makes “getting a man in to have a look” a really bloody hard thing to do and if I did find a qualified person, I would bet my bottom dollar that he would cover my house with every chemical known to man and then charge me through the nose for it. Twice. So I have been trying to convince myself that in a house of this age, the odd beetle crawling out here and there is no big deal and only to be expected. The beams are mostly about 25cm x 25cm big things and so I hope would take a lifetime for some insects to demolish (???) but again, I don’t know these things! I havent heard a sound from anywhere else in the house and there are beams everywhere…(see how Im trying to play this down) Or should I be really worried that if there’s one, there’s more and then there will be even more? I understand its difficult to give advice without seeing the place but I would truely appreciate an opinion from someone who seems to know what they’re on about as much as you do. Thank you very much for your time and again, for a really well put together information source.

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi ‘Ice’,

      As you say, it is not possible to survey via email and you live too far away to get my help. O’d just monitor it for now. Wrap some paper or cling-film arioung the most effected areas and see if next summer you catch an adult!

      eggs don’t lay dormant for ten years so it’s probably not the new stuff.

      You can always email me a photo 🙂

      Good luck with it and thank you for your kind comments – appreciated.

      Dry Rot

  17. Marie says:

    Hello,

    I was recently given an old oak beam (it’s about 3-400 years old) from a period property basement that was being extended and renovated for a shop. Building regs and alterations meant that it was replaced. I want to use it as a fireplace lintel. Have sanded it down and removed the odd nail etc, however there are many worm holes at the ends and typically around the site of the joints to other beams. – i.e where damp or damp air would have been present.

    I’ve coated it, with a woodworm treatment but while sanding we uncovered an old pupa, which disintegrated under the sander before we had time to verify it’s age.

    Question is, if I coat it with more woodworm treatment and then dry, to later seal with a matt clear varnish, will it still be a worry? My house is Edwardian and has wood floors. Also do we need to sand off all the hole and worm runs or are they okay to leave?

    Many thanks and great blog page 🙂

    M.

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Marie,

      I think that you can rest easy. A simple surface treatment will be enough and the likelyhood is that the woodowrm is long gone anyway. Don’t worry about old flight holes and tunnels – they are no problem. The surface treatment will kill any remaining beetles as they emerge, if there are any left in there.

      I think that old woodworm holes look quite funky in beams, so don’t try to fill them or sand them out. It’s likely that they are confined to the sapwood and it’s surprising how much infestation oak can take, without any appreciable weakness. As long as it’s kept dry it will be fine.

      Thanks for you kind comments, I’m glad you found the blog useful.

      Bryan

  18. Jack Morris says:

    Hi, firstly this is a great article so thank you for sharing. I recently bought a house and the survey revealed:

    “I noted slight inactive wood boring beetle in the understair cupboard. The infestation will have migrated to other timbers, where not inspected I cannot confirm that it is inactive. Prior to exchange of contracts you must instruct a reputable firm of timber specialists to carry out a more detailed inspection of the floors in the area and advised you on the costs of the necessary treatment. When floor coverings are replaced elsewhere it is important that the sub floor timbers are inspect”

    I was having the whole house redecorated with new floors, carpets etc… anyway, so once the old carpets had been removed, I instructed ********** (respected timber specialists) to come and take a look. They advised:

    Ground floor:
    No evidence of active Woodworm Infestation was noted. Inspection was severely limited by floorcoverings, carpets / linos / tiles / laminates etc.

    Staircase:
    Evidence of Woodworm Infestation (Anobium punctatum) was found to be present in the staircase.

    First floor:
    Evidence of Woodworm Infestation (Anobium punctatum) was found to be present in the bedroom flooring timbers.

    Roofing Timbers:
    No evidence of active Woodworm Infestation was noted in the roofing timbers. Inspection was severely limited by insulation material and boarding.

    Upon their recommendation they said for peace of mind maybe I should have the whole house treated so this is what i did. That was in Nov.

    I then moved in in Dec and last week I noticed a beetle in my hallway. I am unsure if it was alive or dead as my son trod on it (was definitely dead after that!). I have contacted ********* who advised it was probably an intruder from outside and that I should keep an eye out for any more beetles appearing, but I wanted your opinion on this and if it is anything for me to worry about. Of course their treatment came with a 20yr guarantee, but having put new flooring down everywhere, I really don’t want to start pulling it up just to check if we have an infestation. Is there any other way of establishing if we have a new infestation?

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Jack,

      Thanks for looking in. It’s taken me some time to get round t this because since coming back to my day job in January, I’ve been very busy.

      The flight season of CFB is about May through to September. During this period adult beetles emerge to mate and lay eggs. It would be very unusual, even in a centrally heated house, to see live beetles emerged in December.

      If you are worried. Take a BB pencil and draw a 100mm square on the timber under the stair, encapsulating as many old holes as you can. Then put a pencil mark across all the holes in the square. In September take another look and see if any new holes appear.

      Hope this helps

      Dry Rot

  19. Hi

    Once again thank you for your very informative article.

    My Semi detached house was built approx. 1955 and has a attached outhouse, formerly coal bunkers & shed area. I had the asbestos roofing professionally replaced approx. ten years ago with Plywood & Felt roofing. At the time some of the joists were replaced due to the old timbers being rotten.
    I have recently found an infestation of woodworm in some of the old timbers & boarding which I have treated with a Permethrin based wood treatment.
    The question being do I have to treat the Plywood roof boards or are modern plywood’s already treated against woodworm ?

    Regards John E

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi John,

      Thank you for looking in and for your kind comments.

      Modern sheet materials are not that prone to common furniture beetle infestation. It’s the glue they don’t like, rather than any pre-treatment. You may get a slight nibble where the sheets are tight against the old joists, but it won’t develop if the roof is now dry. If you’ve treated the joist with a good soaking of permethrin it should be fine.

      Dry Rot.

  20. Very informative , Excellent blog , I have been in pest control for over 30 years , and yet I can still learn from others……..well done

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Brian,

      Sorry I missed your comment. Thank you – it means a lot when I can help someone in the trade too. We all learn every day.

      Keep well mate.

      Bryan

  21. Hi,

    Thanks for setting up this site it has been very informative and wondered if you could answer a query for me.

    I have just discovered that the 1600s timber framed house we are about to buy has/had Death Watch Beetle and was recently professionally heat treated to remove the infestation and a 3 year guarantee issued. There seems to be limited information regarding this method and wondered if I can expect this to be effective. We will be having a full survey on the house soon.

    Many thanks

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Mike,
      Heat treatment is something I have not had direct experience of. I understand that there can be some issues if it is not monitored and applied correctly, however that applies to all treatments so I think it is a valid method and has merit. The surveyor ought to be experienced in death watch and if he’s a specialist I’d recommend that you ask if he is a member of the Property Care Association – contractor, consultant or independent surveyor. Any CSRT or CTIS holder should know what to look for but death watch takes a few years to get confident and experienced with, so don’t be worried about asking about the surveyors experience.
      good luck with it – I hope it’s already dead.

      Dry Rot.

  22. Lesley says:

    Hi,
    Advice please if you can -your blog is excellent!
    I have a new kitchen fitted last summer and part of that was an island with an oak top – green oak I guess you’d call it, had been in the manufacturers workshop for a few months, this island.
    Well, over the winter we noticed some lacking of the edges where the bark had been taken off and asked the carpenter to come and sand it smooth. He did but this spring now we have seen many flight holes appear, obviously very active, in the oak top. Contacted the carpenter who said it couldn’t possibly have come from him as the wood was bought from the timber yard with the bark still on – I now know that this is just the type of wood they love! He’s not interested in coming to treat/replace/remove the faulty piece by the way but that’s another issue.
    My concern….. Will these beetles leaving the wood infest the rest of the house? 1700 built farmhouse with beams etc. will they look to infest new kitchen – painted pine with oak block work top all oiled. What is the best course of action for the offending furniture? I have painted with Rentokil Woodworm Treatment which is Permethrin based.
    Help!!
    Lesley

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Lesley,Thanks for your comments.

      This could be bark borer Ernobius mollis, Common furniture beetle Anobium punctatum, Ptilinus beetle, powder post beetle and one or two others. In any event the timber was infested when delivered so you should reject it as not fit for purpose and of non-merchantable quality.

      They should replace it. If they don’t and you treat it with permethrin then any beetles emerging will be killed so no chance of re-infestation. Of course if it is bark borer, powder post or ambrosia beetle then it cannot infest old converted wood anyway.

      Any local Independent PCA surveyor or good contractor member should be able to identify the species for you if you need to get heavy with the suppliers.

      good luck 🙂

  23. Annette says:

    Hello Dry Rot,
    What a fabulous site!
    I live in Holmfirth in an 18th century weaver’s cottage withexposed beams and joists.
    The bedroom floor feels a bit ‘springy’ so I need to investigate but I’m recovering from a stroke and keep putting it off.
    I found your blog whilst looking for advice on whether bedroom furniture should be placed across, or along, floorboards.
    In places I fear that the carpet is supporting the furniture and I’ve become paranoid that one night I am going to descend into the sitting room.
    Do you cover the this area of West Yorkshire, and how much could I expect to pay for a survey?
    Many thanks.

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Annette,

      I am sorry for the delay – I have had an operation and been convalescing.

      You can get a good Property Care Association company or independent timber surveyor to check this for you. My firm do cover your area but I try not to ‘sell’ on my blog. We’d charge about £85.00 for a survey. Ask for Sian or Katrina if you call us and they will help.

      In the meantime watch your step 😉

      DryRot

  24. Hi,

    Thanks for the excellent information on this blog.

    I’m looking for a little advice if possible; over the past month or so, we had noticed some tiny brown beetles in the window sills of the house and didn’t think too much of it but after googling, we’re fairly they certain are common furniture beetle/woodworm.

    After much searching I tracked down the source of the infestation to an old log basket which had many flight holes in the logs and a number of whitish colored carcasses or possibly pupae concentrated around the area. I immediately double bagged this and removed the wood from the house.

    As my wife is very sensitive to chemicals we are reluctant to treat the whole house unless absolutely necessary, so i’d like to know whether thorough cleanup of all rooms and furniture would suffice at this stage,perhaps with watchful waiting over the following months to see if any more insects/flight holes appear elsewhere?

    Best regards,

    Mike

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Mike,

      You’ve hit the nail on the head. A good clean and a watchful eye will do. Bear in mind that the new holes wont appear for two or three years so don’t lose any sleep. I would never recommend precautionary treatments in this sort of case. Ther are some beetles which specialise in wicker so you never know – the rest of the wood in the house may be off their menu anyway 🙂

      Dry Rot.

  25. kate monkcom says:

    Thank you for an informative site. Can you please help? We can hear what sounds like insects munching in one of the beams in the dorma ceiling upstairs. We cannot access it at all unless we take slates off the roof from outside. What could be munching? Woodworm? Death watch beetle? It isn’t just at night that we can hear it. There is no obvious buzzing to suggest it may be wasps or bees but it’s difficult to tell.
    The house was built in 1870 and we have had dry rot (treated) in the past and had the roof area sprayed for woodworm when we first moved in in 1992.
    Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated, thank you.

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Kate,

      This sounds fascinating. You can’t hear CFB or Death Watch Eating wood though.

      There are other things – bats – birds – various dermestid beetles from birds nests….

      Sorry I can’t help more than that but I doubt it’s anything bad (unless you live in West Surrey or thereabouts in which case it could be House Longhorn Beetle) A PCA timber surveyor will check that for you.

      dry Rot.

  26. attica says:

    hi,
    interesting info, thanks. Have like another poster become obsesseive about woodworm since finding out i have it in the attic of my 1940 (circa) bungalow. i had been coming across little brown beetles every summer, mostly around window ledges and in bathroom (tiled floor) i then began to find them dead in boxes of xmas decorations from attic and thats when i realised thats where they were coming from. i looked up pics and identified them as cfb and yes there was flight holes and frass in joists and lathes of attic. i got a survyor froma pest company to look at it and he said it was mild-moderate. I have a young child (i yr old) and am worried about permethrin so i sought out companies using boron based treatments and have got a few quotes. Im happy enough to go ahead with it as long as i know im making an informed decision. am i right in thinking boron based treatments are less toxic? why am i finding live beetles so often? (no flight holes in house only attic) The product most companies use is wykabor. Have you heard of it? im in ireland so cant call a pca surveyor? am planning to sell my house this year and i need to show evidence that it has been treated I assume?
    Thanks for any advice 🙂

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi,

      Thank you for looking in on my site. Sorry for the delay….. v busy!

      If the surveyor has identified the infestation as CFB then a permethrin treatment is perfectly safe if used properly in strict accordance with the manufactureres instructions. I wouldn’t recommend born as an irradicant in this case. It is no safer than permethrin, which is in itself very safe. Try Safeguard Europe’s excellent Soluguard Woodworm, which is what I use here in Yorkshire. Boron is a stomach poison and ideally you want a contact insecticide which is what permethrin is. The EU have just reclassified Boron as “harmful to the unborn child” which is ludicrous given the quantity you’d need to ingest to get that effect, but there you are. It’s the same with permethrin – it’s a lot less harmless than Salt – Caffeine and Wine, but that’s progress.

      We are just about at the end of the flight season so either now or just leave it to the buyer. That way you don’t have to part with cash – just knock the cost off the selling price and leave the work for them – no health and safety worries then..

      Thanks again and good luck with it

      Dry Rot

      The roof can be treated with the loft hatch closed and provide all is done as it should you and your baby are not in any danger.

  27. Hi I’v just brought a second hand rocking chair and an old antique high chair. The Rocking chair is covered in tiny holes and I have also noticed a few on the high chair. I have given them both a quick sand down and have painted cuprinol woodworm killer over them both. I couldn’t see any dust on them when I brought them, although it was difficult to tell because they were in an old ladies dark garage. At the moment I’v got them both out on the patio drying to dry them in the sun. I believe I have to paint 3 layers of the cuprinol. I have searched and search the internet but can’t seem to get evidence if these are live woodworm or just old holes. My plan was to paint both items up for my daughter who is pregnant but I don’t want to bring them indoors if they do have live woodworm. Both items are obviously too big to freeze and too big to bag up. Any suggestions please would be welcome or should I just ditch them both and put it down to a bad purchase? Thanks

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Sara,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Three coats of cuprinol shroud do the trick. Don’t ditch a nice chair just because of a few old holes.

      Bryan

      • Vicki says:

        Hi Byran,

        Wonderful site and so full of information! Thank you!

        I’m hoping you might have already answered this – above. I’ve just bought a nice pine dresser off eBay. No mention of anything suspisious, and my husband went and picked it up at the weekend. On bringing it into the house it has about 25 clusters of about 5-8 holes each over it. They look black in colour. No frass from the holes – but it’s only been side for 4 days and its January!

        The plan is to paint it white, but then move it to a wood cabin at the bottom of the garden (which has been painted too!)……. is this just crazy given the holes we’ve seen? I’m happy to paint with an insecticide, before I paint it – but is this enough given where it’s going to end up? Or shall I ditch it as a bad purchase?

        Many thanks for taking the time to read this,

        Vicki

        • Dry Rot says:

          Hello Vicki,

          If the holes are in little clusters and black inside they were probably made in the living tree or wood yard by ‘ambrosia’ beetle. These little guys feed in wood when it is wet and just felled. A pest of the timber industry because they can blight perfect wood. They die when the wood dies and cannot come back. Paint it and stop worrying. They are also know as pin-hole bores because of the small size. If you stick a pin in they will have a ‘blind’ end.

          Bryan

  28. Hi and thanks for the interesting and informative site – and especially being so responsive to questions. 🙂

    We have a wood burner and have long, low stacks of wood on pallets next to the house (facing SW) to season in the sunshine. Late summer I noticed lots of tiny dark beetles (3-4mm?) flying against the window above the stack, making quite a rattling sound. (Seen the same in our narrowboat too, if the door is open long). More recently we’ve noticed quite a lot of wood covered by tiny round holes, maybe 1.5mm. I’m sure we’ve seen it before but not taken any notice.

    Found the Soluguard document on identifying wood beetles. Pin test shows holes not very deep. Lots of piles of dust in the stack, but almost entirely *just the Ash logs* that are affected. Wondered about CFB, but nothing I’ve read mentions them in flight, and as dark as they seem. Might it be something else?

    Our house is a softwood timber framed bungalow, circa 1970, with suspended floors over a crawl space 1.5′-3′ deep. We haven’t looked there yet… 🙁 I think the firewood is the source. We are currently separating affected wood from the rest of the stack, moving it a few yards from the house. Can it spread at this stage, or not for another life cycle? We are sure to burn through all we have during this winter.

    I’d welcome your insights!

    Chris

  29. PS – I’ve put a photo online of a piece of the affected ash. http://rigdenage.co.uk/transfer/Ash_woodworm.jpg The frass is fine golden dust, and an awful lot of it was present as we moved the wood.
    Took a photo while we were clearing it out, I don’t know if this is one of the culprits or just a squatter. (I know it’s late in the flying season, but it has been a very mild autumn.)
    http://rigdenage.co.uk/transfer/Bug_Woodworm.jpg

    We have moved the affected wood away from the house, and bring it in a couple pieces at a time to go straight on the fire. Sad to use it so intensively during this fairly mild spell, but not sure how much of a risk it is to keep it through the winter. What do you think?

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Christine,

      Thank you for getting in touch and for your comments on the blog.
      The image of the beetle is too out of focus and fuzzy. However, it looks like Hylesinus oleiperda The Lesser Ash Bark Beetle. if this is the case it is harmless to your furniture or house as it only feeds from the living tree in the bark and cambium layer. None of that in your floor joists!

      Hope this helps

      All the best

      Bryan

  30. Michael says:

    Hi, what a great site!

    I have been kept Awake for two nights now by an intermittent faint tapping that lasts only a few seconds, and seems to come from different locations within the bedroom.

    A bit of Internet research seemed to suggest the “deathwatch” beetle, but apparently that is extremely rare here in Glasgow.

    We do have a reclaimed chest of drawers, bought around two months ago. However it has been treated and painted, and shows no symptoms such as flight holes or white powder. Any help or suggestions welcome!

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I’m not a local so can’t say of Death watch beetle has been found in Glasgow, but I doubt it. We do get DWB occasionally here in Yorkshire, though my friends ‘down south’ see much more of it than I do. It won’t infest furniture anyway so no worries there. I doubt it’s a timber infestation you are hearing… sorry I can’t help any further. maybe it’s the plumbing 😉
      good luck with it.

  31. Kerry Jacobs says:

    Hi Dave
    I’ve found a small area in my living room floor board with evidence of woodworm, our plasterer went through the floor! I got a big company out to do a free survey. They found no holes anywhere else but suggested that we need to spray all four floors at a cost of £1100! I feel like I’m being ripped off but want some piece of mind that the problem has been dealt with. HELP!

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Kerry,

      I am not called Dave 🙂 Anyway thank you for getting in touch.

      Assuming that the problem is common furniture beetle I’d say that there may be an advantage in treating adjacent areas. However you need to make that decision on the facts of the case, not just because a specialist says so.

      Once the floor you are worried about is repaired (all the badly infested timber taken out and new stuff installed), you can have it treated and it will not get re-infested.

      The adjacent areas are at an increased risk of infestation because the presence of flight holes in the floor you’d had repaired (where beetles have emerged to mate and lay egg), means that they may have laid eggs on adjacent timbers. Especially if the floors share the same sub-floor space. These insects will not make new flight holes in the wood for a few years yet.

      In these cases a surveyor will want to have a really good look at them, to see if there are any signs of infestation. If there are then treat. If there are not – this does not mean there isn’t incipient infestation, which has not yet matured. Nobody knows at this stage.

      If the survey is restricted he may recommend ‘precautionary’ treatment. However, that is not the only action you can take. You could for example choose to simply monitor the situation. This means just having these areas looked at again, say every year or even every two or three years. If during that time, new holes appear, then treat the floors immediately to avoid structural damage. If no holes appear, then you have saved lots of money and if no holes appear after four years I’d say you are in the clear and the floor/stairs or whatever are no longer at any higher risk of infestation than anyone else’s.

      Consider other factors too, such as how easy is it to monitor the area? If it’s hard to get at then it may be better to just get it treated now. If you plan for example of laying expensive carpets or floor finishes, or tiling or fitting new furniture over the ‘at risk’ areas, this too may mean you favour the precautionary route? No point lifting out all the good work your kitchen fitter did when a few holes emerge in a year or three.

      If you are selling the house you will need to tell the buyer that these areas may have a problem. So again, it may be better to treat them so you can offer a guarantee and peace of mind.

      Don’t feel pressured by the specialist. He may well have your interests at heart, or he may just be over-cautious. Have a chat about all your options. Some of course would say he’s selling you a lemon (I have seen grossly over-cautious treatment specifications), but on the basis that your infestation is so severe, that someone put their foot through the floor, this seems a bit unfair.

      Best of luck with it. I can only go by what you’ve told me so I am assuming that the diagnosis is correct – it should be if the specialist has CSRT or CTIS after his name, but others too can tell ‘woodworm’ from wet rot, dry rot or defective joinery.

      Bryan

  32. Helen says:

    Hi,

    A bit of advice please as this seems to be the most informative site of all,thanks! I have just brought an old (? Victorian ) pine dressing table and although I cant see any holes anywhere, there are various piles of what I assumed was dust; now I’ve come to clean it properly there are some that look like little reddy brown piles of sawdust along some of the draw edges and in one of the corners, also something that resembles a bit of old greyish with specks of white (would this be bird faeces?).
    Thinking the piles were dust I have just tried to hoover but they seem harder and still there. Hence me then googling and coming across beetles! Am i worrying about nothing or could it be infestation- like I said no holes obvious anywhere so slightly confusing presentation. Thanks so much in advance.

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Helen,

      No holes means no infestation. Really it is that simple. By the sound of it the dust is merely the wear and tear across the runners, combined with fine compacted dust.

      Thanks for looking in.

      Dry Rot.

  33. Neil Jones says:

    Fantastic blog, thanks for your guidance!

  34. Sara Serafim says:

    Hi dear from Cairo, Egypt 🙂 ,

    thanks a lot for your informative website and ur quick responses .I hope you can advise me as i became really obsessive since i found lyctids and anobids ( furniture beetle) in my kitchen, i had the names from the dept. of agriculture here in Cairo by identifying the insects themselves. I got the wood already infested from the carpenter and had them appearing in may till September , i saw powder in early may but I didnt understand what that meant , then in September i found holes and dead beetles in the kitchen cabinets.

    we got some professionals and fumigated the whole house with aluminum phosphide , and i also got rid of the kitchen afterwards.but my question is what is the possibility that these insects have infested the rest of my furniture ? i found after fumigation hundreds of insects dead next to all windows in the home ..i kept finding dead beetles for a month after fumigation next to windows..does this mean they already spread to the whole house before fumigation or they were trying to escape fumigation ?.. im really worried ,, hope u can advise me… FYI our houses here are built of cement , ceramic and laminate ( no real wood in construction). so the worries are about furniture ..thanks a lot , appreciate receiving your feedback… Sara

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Sara,

      It is common to bring infestation into the house with wood. However, it is far less common to find that the emerging beetles then infest existing furniture. This is because the lyctids need the end grain of large vessel hardwoods to lay their eggs in (they have an ovipositor which cannot fit in small vessels), and the Anobium needs cracks and old flight holes (rough sawn wood is best). Thus varnished, polished and often very dry wood is a poor spot for egg laying. Far more likely that they laid eggs in roof timbers or sub-floor timbers or rough sawn structural frames. If these are covered by tiles, carpets and such, then less likely.

      Also the fumigation sounds pretty drastic – I wouldn’t worry.

      best wishes

      Bryan

  35. Keith says:

    Hi Bryan,

    Thanks for the great web site. Our house has a suspended wooden ground floor with the under floor space ventilated by a number of air bricks. While doing some work under the floor recently I noticed quite a few wood worm holes on a number of rafters. Given that we can’t have the whole floor lifted how would you teat this?

    Best Regards,

    Keith

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi keith,

      Thank you for your support.

      I’m sorry I can’t survey via internet. it would be silly of me to suggest treatment when we don’t know if the infestation is active or anything to worry about. I recommend that you put your postcode into the find a contractor or find an independent survwyor section of the Property Care Association web site. You need a qualified and experienced person, when it comes to infestation in structural timbers.

  36. Kirsty Adams says:

    Hi,

    I have found all the signs of CFB in a piece of kitchen furniture I bought a couple of years ago. It is an old beech butcher’s block mounted on a cupboard made from reclaimed pine, I think (from the holes!) that it is the pine that is harbouring the beetle. We’ve found new holes, piles of dust, and now dead beetles inside the cupboard. We have been using the piece as an island unit in the kitchen, preparing food on it. Is there any safe way to treat it or is it an ex-kitchen island unit?!

    Thanks,

    Kirsty

    • Hi Kirsty,

      I’d treat all the surfaces except the bit you chop food on with a standard woodworm treatment from the DIY shop. You should strip the cupboard of paint of course. if it’s pine it will soak up the fluid really well, as pine is east to treat. If there is any plywood then that is toast I’m afraid as it may be too far gone, as woodworm (CFB), loves the stuff.

      Good luck with and please don’t throw it away.

      Dry Rot.

  37. Paresh says:

    Hi

    I would like to second the comment about how good your site is. I am down south in Harrow, London and recently found some flight holes in a couple of rafters in my loft. In December I saw some frass under one of the beams. I have since sprayed all the rafters in the loft with a DIY woodworm killer from Sika which has 0.1% Permithrin. I have not sprayed the joists yet because of the boarding and insulation. The loft is dry and can only think that the problem occurred when I put some soffit vents in which made the rafter damp. I immediately shut them off. I am about to do the joists with 1:24 mix and because I don’t have a 25l bottle I am mixing 200ml solution with 4.5l water. I have since seen a little frass but Sika say it is post treatment holes which to appear. I would like to know would these things spread onto other beams and joists even though they are dry? Also will they spread to the house? I am kicking myself and worried sick.

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Paresh,

      There should not really be any post-treatment emergence if you have applied enough fluid. Try not to worry too much – these are not termites! Just keep an eye and treat as needed.

  38. Sam Patel says:

    Hi,

    What a great article, refreshing to find someone who writes authoritatively and credibly. I have a new build house with lots of green oak frames as well as entirely internal green oak beams. I have lived in it for 18 months now and a few months back spotted an odd small insect which led me to find a number of tiny holes that I didn’t remember being there before. Took a picture of the insect, googled and identified I may have an infestation!

    Since then have found more holes in other parts of the house all with fresh ‘frass’ a fine power like talcum dust directly under holes. In fact, these must have been there before but I had passed them off as simply house dust when cleaning. It seems to be in the sapwood but there is a LOT of timber for me to inspect.

    How worried should I be? Am I best calling someone in (like yourself) or treat with an off the shelf treatment (which might take some time as well as working at height)? I also have engineered wood surface floors which the original insect dropped into and disappeared, should I be concerned about the floor too?

    Any advice gratefully received.
    Thank you
    Sam

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Sam,

      Thank you for getting in touch. You need a site survey by a decent timber surveyor. This could be Lyctus brunneus.

      It is not called Power Post Beetle for nothing. If you have oak, with verty fine frass and flight holes about 2mm then this could be it. It needs starch in th etimber so id often a pest brought into building in new hardwood such as Oak and elm. It will not attack softwoods or speard to older word because ethe starch levels will be too low.

      However, there are other insects it could also be so you need someone on site to look closely. I’d say the best bet would be a visit to the Property Care Association web site. Ask the surveyor on the phone if he is CSRT and can diagnose Powder Post and infestations from living trees and freshly converted timber – if he is unsure at all – ring another. If it turns out to be Powder Post then you will need to call on the suppliers first as it will have come in with the delivered timber.

      Good look with this one.

      Bryan

  39. Chris says:

    Hi.

    Very informative so thank you.

    My wife and I purchased some cane furniture delivered at our newly purchased home (built in the 1960s but extensively changed since) in October last year. The furniture has been in use in our conservatory ever since. A couple of weeks ago we noticed a scattering of what looked a little like sawdust at the foot of one of the chairs but thought nothing more if it. Today, we noticed a similar layer and having investigated found just one very small hole in the arm of the chair and a trickle of dust ‘flowing’ down the side of the chair leg. We cannot be sure if any dust appeared between these two times.
    The conservatory has underfloor heating and although it has a tiled surface there is a LOT of wood in our home and we are very concerned that whatever we have may spread or have spread. How can we tell? Any advice you can give us would be really appreciated.
    Chris

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Chris,

      I can’t diagnose an insect via the internet. However these may be just a lyctus or similar beetle which was already in the wood when it was converted to furniture. It is very doubtful that this will spread to anything else – the wood in the house will be the wrong species and too dry – 🙂
      Chill out and keep the furniture – just a coat or two of woodworm killer from the DOIY shop as a precaution. Probably not needed though.

      If you are still worried ask a local PCA member to send along a qualified timber infestation surveyor (CTIS or CSRT). he will know.

      Bryan

  40. Alison says:

    Hi Bryan,

    Excellent site! Very helpful.

    Could you give me a little advice?
    Two months ago I bought an edwardian dressing table. The seller said it had previous signs of woodworm…that “adds to the charm”. I found out yesterday that its an active infestation. I noticed movement in one of the exit/ bore holes. I sprayed the little terror with hairspray thinking to suffocate it. Neeless to say…I found four beetles a while later. This is obviously not the best idea I’ve ever had. Looks like the common furniture beetle or death watch. Do I now have an infestation to worry about? Should I treat the room? My husband is not too happy with me and the offending furniture is now in the shed outside. He says we should wait to see if we see any more. My worry is that what if they have been active since my purchase in early February. I have had the heating on etc. We live in Southampton.

    Thank you for any advice you can offer.

    Kind regards,
    Alison.

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Alison,

      It is a little early for common furniture beetle and I have yet to see death watch in furniture. Don’t panic. Treat it with some woodoworm killer from B&Q – carefully and follow the instructions. The chance of infestation spreading is very low. If still worried I’d visit the Propery Care Association find a member page. Contact an independent surveyor or contractor from thereto check it for you.

      best regards

      Bryan

  41. Alison says:

    Hi Bryan,

    Thank you for setting our minds at ease.
    I think just the name “woodworm” promotes a little panic. I feel alot better after reading your site and I will definitely be in taking you advice.

    Take care.
    Alison.

  42. Suki Fane says:

    Hello, can you advise me on how to kill woodworm that is in a rather beautiful old French cheese basket? It isn’t bad, but how can I make sure it doesn’t get worse without using poisons that are not food-friendly? Can I put the basket in the freezer for a short spell (that’s how I kill clothes moths) in which case how long would ensure the little beggars are killed?
    Or would you just use standard woodworm killer and never put cheese in it again?
    I would welcome your advice.
    Suki Fane

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Suki,

      You can either put it in the freezer overnight or in the oven at 50C for a couple of hours – either will do it. But I don’t what freezing and cooking will do to your basket!

      Thanks for getting in touch.

  43. Dale Mountford says:

    Hi
    Again, to repeat the comments of others above, what a very informative article. From someone with more experience than book learning.

    My experience is from treating my 200 year old terraced house which had a main roof joist end digested by woodworm (mainly wood boring weevil happily living in wet wood after the roofers did a poor job of tiling, but also a few CFB). After removing all the dead timber and supporting the beam (and fixing the roof), I sprayed everything with permethrin (Fastrack and Cuprinol – 2 or 3 coats between them), even though the weevil was supposed to leave once the wood dried out – I wasn’t taking any chances though.

    Unfortunately, like many others, now I have a hawk eye and a mild dose of paranoia. I have just found a couple of furniture beetles again in the same room. I’ve used permethrin on my tent in the past and it has remained effective for 10+ years. Do you think my treatments from around 7 years ago will still be effective? I see Rentokil give a 30 year guarantee so presumably this is based on the life span of the insecticide? Or do you think they’d like some more permethrin?

    Of note, the one beetle was very small – around 1 to 1.25mm long so presumably a juvenile. And the other was also on the small side – 2.5mm. Could this be because I have made the environment less than favourable for their residence? I’m pretty confident in my identification – though the smaller one could possibly have been something else. But I am not a big believer in coincidence.

    Many thanks for your advice
    Dale

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Dale,

      Thank you for lookibg in.

      Are you sure these are the carcasses of CFB? The adults are not that variable in size – juvenile beetles do not exist as the beetles are the result of a larvae reaching maturity. In its juvenile stage CFB is a larvae.

      The tiny beetles could be adult weevils… get a magnifying glass on them and look for the snout (rostrum), with the antennae sticking out.

      I wouldn’t re-treat at this stage.
      Bryan

      • Dale Mountford says:

        Thanks Bryan
        I murdered them so will need to wait for the next ones to manifest themselves before I can check under a magnifying glass. Hopefully they just flew in the open window, but my life is never that simple…

        Cheers
        Dale

  44. Marko says:

    Hi

    Some really useful insights on your website.

    Can I get your advice on a problem with the common furniture beatle. I have access to the underfloor of the house via a side access door. I have recently found a sub-floor infestation which appears active. I can easily get under the house to treat the ground floor from below, however, I cannot easily access the top side of the floorboards with a mixture of laminate and vinyl flooring coverings.

    My question is, will treating the joists and lower side of the floorboards be sufficient. I understand the the melamine in the laminate flooring creates a barrier preventing the woodworm from exiting through it and that formaldehyde in the floor coverings would kill the woodworm. Therefore, am I right in assuming that the woodworm would have to exit on the lower side of the floorboards which I can easily treat.

    Your advice would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hell Marko,

      Whether you can risk leaving the upper surface depends on the severity of the infestation. If you have probed the underside thoroughly and found it is hard and sound then spray the underside a couple of times with Safeguard’s Soluguard woodworm. Follow the data sheet and safety instructions carefully. If on the other hand the infestation is quite severe, with softening of some of the boards, it would be better to bite the bullet and expose it all. Treatments work by killing on emergence and whilst the top can’t allow more egg laying, the underside treatent will not get sufficient ‘initial kill’ if the infestation is severe, which would be desirable really, wher there is lots of activity.

      Good luck with it (if in doubt call in a professional via the Property Care Association)

  45. Charlotte says:

    Dear Dry Rot,

    Great website! Thanks for your generosity in sharing your knowledge and information, and replying to all these worried people. We need more human beings like you in the world 🙂

    Whilst waiting to move into an old house we just bought in Chichester (built in the 1830’s) we put all of our furniture into ‘storage’ aka an empty garage for about 6 weeks (end of April to mid June)

    Upon putting our old furniture out once we had moved in (last weekend) which included an old chest of drawers and church chairs with old holes which we thought the beetles had vacated years ago, we have had what looks like the common furniture beetle emerge around the house, and the chest of drawers has the tell tale signs of fresh powder which went on my clothes 🙁

    We have only moved in one week ago but have found these beetles (some dead and some alive in 4 rooms upstairs and a room downstairs- at a guess around 20 beetles maybe. Our whole downstairs is parquet and we don’t know what to do? Get the whole house treated as the beetles may have laid eggs in the last few days or chance it and keep an eye on things?

    Thanks so much for your help!
    Charlotte

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Charlotte,

      Thank you for your comments. Don’t panic. The floor probably has varnish on it so as far as the beetles are concerned it’s plastic!

      That sound a lot of beetles so you need a PCA member to look at them and also carry out a general timber survey. I wouldn’t recommend any treatment unless there is evidence of activity in the house timbers.

      Take care

      Bryan

  46. Emma Dew says:

    Hello, your blog is great and a very useful read.

    I have an unusual query (well I think so anyway!) I recently bought a old french wicker basket from an antiques market (20th May) washed it off when I got it home and left it to dry and set it on my dining table, since then I have been clearing up ‘dust’ from it which I thought was odd but I just assumed it was filthy and that I had dislodged all the rubbish with the cleaning. My cat has taken to sleeping in it too!!

    So imagine my surprise when today I see little beetles all over the dining table, seemingly dead or very lethargic. I have cleared them all up and dumped them and the basket outside – should I be worried about the rest of my furniture now as I have introduced the beetle to my home??? eeek and I assume I should just burn the damn basket!!!

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Emma,

      Don’t panic, you have done the right thing and unless the basket is valuable throw it away.

      The chance of the adults egg laying on varnished or ‘modern’ furniture is low. They like rough-sawn wood, the rougher the better. Old plywood backed wardrobes and such too. Just keep an eye out but don’t lose any sleep.

      Bryan

  47. Hi there
    I have had floorboards treated with an insecticide to treat woodworm. Is it possible that over time the treatment could become ineffective if the boards stay too damp? In effect being washed out?
    Not sure exactly what insecticide was used, just that it was water based.
    Regards
    Dave

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Dave,

      I’d need to know what was used, I’m afraid. Some older insecticides do break down and Boron for example can be leached out if there is enough water. That said, indoors there should not be that much water. Mere damp should not wash out material.

      Damp will cause rot eventually regardless of any treatment applied and especially if it was an insecticide, rather than a fungicide. Unless you are seeing new flight holes forget the infestation and get rid of the dampness.

      Bryan

  48. Hi Dry Rot
    Really happy that I found your blog, it’s so nice that you have taken the time out to give advice.
    I recently purchased a oak drawer leaf kitchen table in April this year from one of Oak Furniture Land’s outlets in Doncaster.
    Yesterday I noticed some frass dust under it on the floor, on inspection I saw three 5mm flight holes and I could see something moving in one of them, I pulled it out with some wire. I googled the beetle and it looks like Postdust Beetle, on pulling the beetle out I must have cut it in two, but putting the two halves together it looks to be about 12 to 15mm long.
    My advice which I’m looking will they infect my oak kitchen unit doors, oak floorboards in living room and oak veneered doors, also do you think I should destroy it or treat it if the latter which treatment do you recommend.

    Thanks in advance
    Mike.

    • Dry Rot says:

      It is almost certanly a pest from lumber yard. I’d take it back to the shop for a refund.

      If you want to keep it that’s fine but expect more to come out. They won’t infest the rest of the house or furniture though 🙂

  49. Jane chery says:

    Hi Dave,

    We had our downstairs fogged last year after active woodworm was diagnosed but have noticed more beetles in the same room this year . After contacting the company we were reassured that this was normal as the beetles will die after ingesting the poison but there does seem to be still a lot of beetles 10 to 15 some days . Should I be worried ??

    Thanks for any advice you can offer,

    Jane

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Jane,

      I’m Bryan not Dave 🙂

      I must say that I am not a lover of fogging. Why was this method used? IMHO it is only really suitable when there is a very light infestation and the area cannot be accessed easily to spray by conventional means. If the company are saying that these insects are emerging alive through the treated surface then you should ask for an explanation – what active ingredient was used?. Live insects may be present due to ‘post treatment emergence’. However, where contact insecticides are used, such as permethrin this should not happen. The insect die very quickly when they chew through the treated zone at the surface. Sometimes you’ll see the odd insect on the surface but this should not happen in any great number. Occasionally you’ll see the head of a dead adult sticking throuhh the surface where they have been killed on emergence.

      Other treatments such as boron and Flurox do not work in this way. However, these should be sprayed because they need to be ingested by the grub stage of the insect. In the case of boron, this is a stomach poison. Flurox works by targeting the formation of the grub’s pupae. Again this must be ingested – it cannot be ingested if it is deposited by fogging – there just isnt enough to result in good penetration of the wood.

      Here is a good artical on ‘post treatment emergence’ http://www.buildingpreservation.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=134:woodworm-post-treatment-emergence-or-failed-treatment&catid=8:timber-infestation&Itemid=85

      Here’s a link to a good artical on fogging http://www.buildingpreservation.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=128:micro-spraying-preservatives-myth-or-magic&catid=8:timber-infestation&Itemid=85

      Thanks for looking in Jane.

      Bryan

  50. Karin jones says:

    Hi..
    So glad I read your blog and advice and hope you can help me. I just arrived back from holiday and noticed in the hallway two very small piles of sand by my skirting board.On closer inspection I noticed two very tiny holes just about 1 inch above the ground level and approx 6 inches apart in a straight line and my husband suspects woodworm …what is the best way to treat it.I saw rentokill woodworm killer for purchase but worried that I am wasting my money. I am worried that I am invested .My husband got some Cuprinol as someone advised us to inject it into the holes but haven’t done so yet as I’m concerned of being very toxic.Would this do the trick? Kind regards Karin

    • Dry Rot says:

      Hi Karin,

      Thank you for popping in.

      If these are old skirting and flightholes have appeard through the paint then your suspenede timber floors may be infested. Unless the floors are concrete I recommend that you have a PCA member come and inspect the house for you. A CSRT qualified surveyor will be aware of the health and safety inmplications and should be able to give you sound information.

      DIY is fine but at this stage you need to know what is there and where else it may be. It may be nothing 🙂

      Bryan

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Copyright © 2010 Preservation Expert. Legal Stuff: All the advice and information in the posts on my blog is made in good faith and is based on my experience and knowledge at the time of writing. However, nobody is infallible and whilst I’m confident that most of what I write about preservation issues is accurate, there’s a good chance there’ll be an error or two somewhere. I do change my mind about stuff, as I gain more experience. In view of this you must make your own decisions on whether to follow any advice I write and think about this; I could be wrong. No responsibility will be accepted by the author for any losses anyone may suffer as a result of any mistake or for the consequence of any action you take as a result of reading this blog. If you do suffer a loss, resulting from anything I’ve written, a verbal heartfelt apology will be your only compensation.