Wood-eating insects can be a real problem, and if you’ve made it this far, you may be suffering from it.
In this article, we will help you identify whether the insect that feeds on wood in your home is woodworm. And if so, you will also find the main recommendations and treatments for killing woodworm.
What is Woodworm
In reality, woodworm is not a specific species of insect, it is the common name used to refer to the larvae of some types of insects (basically beetles). These larvae are those that feed on wood (xylophagus) creating galleries and tunnels in their path that the adult insect then leaves.
This adult insect, a beetle, does not feed on wood. However, when the time comes, he will look for a crack in the wood where he will lay his eggs, starting a new cycle.
This larval phase, during which woodworm feeds on wood, can last for several years. That is, these animals can take years, between 2 and 5 years, weakening the wood before we realize its presence.
Types of woodworm
As we have said, we are dealing with various types of insects, or rather, with various types of insect larvae. The most common are:
Woodworm or Wood Beetle (Anobidae)
The woodworm larvae are whitish and curved, with very fine hair. They are very small, between 0.6 and 1.2 centimeters.
The adults or wood beetles are dark in color (blackish-brown) and measure between 3 and 5 millimeters.
Elongated and granular debris flooding the internal galleries. The outlet holes are approximately 1.5 mm in diameter.
It is the wood bug that we usually find in furniture, parquets and small wooden elements, although this type of wood bug can also be found in structural elements such as beams and door and window frames.
Parquet Caterpillar (Limits)
Also known as woodworm, this type is larger than the previous one, with white body and brown jaws, with three pairs of small legs.
Very fine, rounded, granular debris, similar to flour or talcum powder. The outlet holes are approximately 3 millimeters in diameter.
This type of woodworm competes for the same type of wood as the common woodworm. They are also very frequent.
Great weevil, wood moth or stink bug (Cerambicidae)
As the name makes us think, this type of weevil is much bigger than the previous ones. Your body is whitish and yellowish, you have well-defined rings and elongated antennae. The great woodworm is also known as wood moth or bug.
The debris is noticeably larger and cylindrical in shape. The outlet holes are generally slightly oval and have diameters between 6 and 10 millimeters.
The adult is a beetle of considerable size, approximately 12-25 millimeters, of dark color and long and thin antennae.
The wood moth usually attacks coniferous forests that are already dry and put to work, although it can also do it with leafy species (oak, ash, beech …). The damage they do is much greater than that caused by other types of woodworm.
Prevention is always better than cure
While there is obviously no perfect solution, there are some tips or practices to reduce the likelihood that our furniture or wooden structures will be affected.
- Avoid excess moisture inside. Ventilate the house frequently and fix moisture problems as soon as they appear. Woodworm is an insect that prefers wood with a high moisture content.
- Apply anti-woodworm products. Today it is easy to find products that offer protection against insects, not just against woodworm. A few more euros can mean incredible savings.
- When buying furniture or other wooden items, check and look for signs that may indicate the presence of woodworm. Obviously, if you find these signs, don’t buy the wood, you could be the one who will bring the problem home.
How to detect and identify woodworm?
There are some characteristics or habits that differentiate woodworm from other insects. This can help us to know if the problem we have is related to the weevil or if, on the contrary, it is another xylophagous insect.
Holes or cracks in the wood. The woodworm, as an adult, passes through the wood and leaves, leaving some exit holes, usually small, of about 2-3 millimeters. Depending on the species, they can reach up to 8-10 mm.
The wanted. These are the debris, debris or sawdust that the woodworm leaves behind when piercing the wood.
Hearing sounds that come from inside the wood. This noise is a little lower than what termites would do.
Identifying the insect. Or the larva, which is quite complicated, since as we have already said it does not leave the interior of the wood until it is an adult. Or identify the adult insect.
The first two characteristics are the most important and they are what, in most cases, will give us the diagnosis. Basically, if there are small holes in the wood and next to these remains as described, we can say that we have a woodworm problem with a very high success rate.
How to Eliminate Woodworm
It turns out that unfortunately we detect the presence of woodworm at home, how should we act?
If the problem is big, that is, we find the typical signs of the weevil presence (holes and debris) throughout the house, our recommendation is that you forget the specific home remedies and solutions to kill the weevil. Look directly for a pest management company to apply professional and much more effective solutions.
If, on the other hand, we see that it is something specific, we can try to solve the problem ourselves.
Steps to eliminate woodworm from furniture
We will resort to using woodworm killers. There are several treatments on the market to eradicate woodworm, also available in liquid, gel or spray form.
Remember that they are potentially toxic products, so apply them taking all necessary care: ventilated area, eye and skin protection …
The steps are usually as follows:
- If the wooden furniture or utensil has already applied a finish that creates a layer, usually paint or varnish, it will be necessary to unravel to remove that finish.
- With clean wood, anti-caterpillar treatment is applied. Depending on the product, it can be applied with a brush, spray and even by immersion. Pay attention and do not leave any corner without product. If there are holes where you think there may be a weevil, insist on those areas.
- Let the product penetrate the wood and respect the drying times suggested by the manufacturer.
Although these steps are common, always check the manufacturer’s specifications before doing anything.
There are also treatments to apply directly to the holes in the wood without the need to undress, usually with a cannula. There are those who have biocide, even those who use the cold, expelling a liquid at low temperature, which freezes if there is woodworm in the hole. This type of treatment may not be effective if there is woodworm in the wood.
Home remedies for woodworm
Using acorns as bait. This proposal or remedy consists of using fresh acorns wrapped in cloth as bait. They are placed during the breeding season, in the warm months of the year, and their aroma will attract the beetle to lay its eggs there and not on the wood of your furniture or carpentry. After that period, we must end the weevil that may be inside. It can be submerged in water and left there for at least a day or burned directly. Obviously, this remedy is not 100% effective, but it is a complement to any treatment especially useful in areas where weevil is very abundant.
Adverse temperatures for woodworm. Virtually all woodworm species come from warm climates and the cold is not suitable for them. If we have, for example, an industrial refrigerator, where we can store furniture or affected wood for at least 48 hours with a temperature of up to 5 degrees, we will end the weevil. It is a simple and very effective solution, but it is not always possible to subject the wood to these temperatures.
Application of woodworm-killing products. On the web you can find recommendations for all types of homemade products or product combinations that promise to kill woodworm. Possibly yes, but it is also possible that they do not damage the wood, or are simply not more effective than the products already commercialized for killing woodworm, which are very easy to find and really cheap. Some of these product proposals to eliminate woodworm are impregnating wood with diesel oil or industrial oils, combinations of copper and iron sulfate, turpentine dissolved in a liquid, etc.
Professional treatments for woodworm elimination
If it were necessary to resort to professionals, these, in addition to what has been discussed so far, have more weapons.
- Controlled atmosphere technologies. Here, we seek to create environments or physical environments harmful to woodworm. For example, in chambers you can create environments with temperatures high enough to dry the wood and reduce the moisture that snails need to live in, or even deprive them of oxygen.
- Injection. It is a treatment for woodworm applied to structures, where the pieces of wood have a certain dimension. It consists of drilling the wood to insert valves that will later be used to inject the pressure treatment.
- Gel. It is a product that penetrates the wood and kills all types of xylophagous insects, not just woodworm. It is recommended that only professionals use it because, in addition to being toxic, it requires knowledge of compatibility with wood finishes and thorough cleaning after solvent evaporation.
How is woodworm different from termites?
Out of ignorance, it is common for people to confuse these insects, but there are important differences between termites and woodworm.
- There are important physical differences. Termites have 6 legs, a well-defined head, are not whitish and usually have wings.
- Termites are a social insectThat is, you will not find a single termite, but thousands acting in an organized way. This is by no means the beetle’s behavior, in fact, we can say that they are lonely individuals.
- Termites make holes in the wood, but cover them and leave no residue.
- Both woodworm and termite infestations are undesirable things that can cause serious damage to wood. However, the voracity of termites is greater, and also the effects they can cause.