Identifying Woodworm and Timber pests

Identifying the beetle species causing the timber decay is important, as this gives an indication as to the probable extent of the damage.

There are beetle species that are harmless to timber structures, such as the Biscuit Beetle, which is of a similar size, and may be mis-diagnosed as the furniture beetle, a far more destructive beetle to timber structures.

In addition, the place at which the beetles are found is crucial, as this dictates the remedial action, for example, it may be difficult to carry out a spray application to joists that are bedded into the wall, or to purlins (intermediary timber members used in old buildings) that became damp following a roof leak.

Identifying the beetle type requires careful observation, and can rarely be carried out accurately by an untrained eye. Consequently, if you suspect, or notice what appears to be fresh flight holes, Frass or other signs, a specialist should be consulted.

If, however you would like more information on the different beetle types, to assist understanding a recently commissioned survey report for example, please see the following list below:

Common furniture beetle (Anobium punctatum)

This is a relatively small beetle, which is by far the most common species of Woodworm in the UK, which despite its name, is just as likely to attack building timbers.

House longhorn beetle (Hylotrupes bajulus)

Found particularly in Surrey in the UK, infecting the sapwood (occasionally attacking the heartwood) on seasoned softwoods. This is a large beetle, which can cause substantial damage.

Deathwatch beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum)

This species attacks predominately hardwoods, mainly large sections of Oak or Elm, and softwoods in close proximity. Deathwatch beetles are famously well known for producing a ‘tapping’ sound, which is a mating call, frequently heard during the emergence period.

Wood boring weevil (Euophyrum confine)

Attacks decayed timbers, invariably associated with damp problems and are usually a secondary concern to that of a wet or dry rot.

Other lesser-known beetle types include:

Pinhole Borers (Platypodidae/Scolytidae)

Small, inconspicuous beetles, which attack hardwoods, although unlikely to cause serious structural damage, create pinhole size flight holes, which may increase timber vulnerability to rot.

Powder Post Beetle (Lyctus Brunneus)

This small, innocuous beetle is not as well known as Death Watch or Furniture Beetles, although it is responsible for more damage then most of the others put together. Characteristically reduces the timber to a fine powder, leaving a thin veneer of sound timber at the surface.