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Small isolated infestations like you may see in a piece of recently purchased furniture can easily be treated yourself using a woodworm killer fluid in a spray bottle. Larger outbreaks in sheds or outbuildings could be tackled with a larger can of woodworm killer and a spray applicator.

Large and extensive infestations are better dealt with by a specialist company, but they will use pretty toxic chemicals to make sure the job is completed at the first visit. Bear in mind that most old buildings will have extinct infestations. 

These do not need more treatment; however, some surveyors and parties with vested interests will try to convince you that the insects are active and recommend chemical treatments. If you can't check this for yourself, at least get a second or third opinion.


Woodworm refers to the larvae of the wood-boring beetles of which four species.

  • adult is 2.7-4.5 mm long
  • winged and capable of flight
  • brown in colour
  • adults leave the timber and so may be seen between May and September
  • Lifecycle

  • adults do not feed, they just reproduce
  • female lays eggs into cracks in the wood, or old exit holes
  • eggs hatch after 3 weeks each producing a 1mm long, creamy white larva
  • for 3-4 years the larvae bore randomly through the timber following and eating the starchy part of the wood and growing to about 7mm.
  • they come near to the wood surface when ready to pupate
  • they excavate small spaces just under the wood surface and pupate within 8 weeks
  • the adults then break through to the surface leaving a 1-1.5mm exit hole and spilling a small pile of wood dust called 'frass'
  • fresh frass is a fairly reliable indicator of a current infestation

  • Habitats

    The Common Furniture Beetle is a woodland insect, but also loves old houses and old furniture.

    Woodworm prefers timber with a moisture content of over 20%. The average moisture content of kiln dried timber used to build new homes is 20% maximum but over the years it will stabilise depending on environmental conditions. This could well be at around 22% over winter and under 20% over summer months. So, woodworm infestation is always a possibility in untreated timbers.

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