Back to Blog

8 Most Common Woodworm Questions - Answered!

Timber Knowledge
18 July 2023 min read

If your wooden furniture suddenly becomes riddled with tiny round holes and nearby clumps of bore-dust, woodworm is almost certainly the culprit. Insect attacks can occur most commonly in soft and damp woods found in poorly ventilated environments and other areas that suffer from damp problems. But what causes woodworm and how can it be prevented? And is it even a serious problem in the first place? 

In this blog, Woodshop Direct will delve into all the most frequently asked woodworm related questions, queries and concerns, breaking down this infestation issue into something more manageable that woodworkers and homeowners alike can deal with.  


What Causes Woodworm? 

An adult female woodboring beetle will lay eggs within the cracks, splits and porous surfaces of any wood that is conducive to the growth and survival of the larvae. The eggs will hatch and the larvae will begin to burrow inside the wood over a matter of years, eating through the wood in the process. Eventually they will reach the wood surface, boring a distinctive woodworm hole.


When Is Woodworm Most Common?

Wood can be vulnerable to infestations at any time of the year but woodworm are usually more active in warmer months during mating season. Around April and the arrival of Spring and Summer is when your wooden furniture is most at risk. 


What Does A Woodworm Look Like?

Woodworm is a more general term to describe the wood-eating larvae of many different types of woodboring beetles. Typically you’ll be looking out for the signs of woodworm as opposed to a larva itself. When they burrow they create small, round, 1-2mm holes with frass, or boredust visible at the exit locations. 


What Kind Of Wood Will Woodworm Infest?

Woodworm is a problem for both hardwoods and softwoods, but it has to be damp and untreated wood for the infestation to take hold. 

Drier woods will be harder for the larvae to eat so softwoods such as pine and cedar are more likely targets. However, oak and ash can become infested if the moisture content is higher. 

Unsealed, unvarnished, unlacquered and damaged wood will provide a more suitable home for woodworm. 


Can Woodworm Spread To Other Furniture?

It can happen, but it’s highly unlikely. The only reason woodworm would infest another piece of wood furniture would be if that item had a higher moisture content. This could provide a better environment and more nutrition for larvae. Woodworm beetles usually choose the best environment for their offspring first and remain there. 


How Can You Tell If Woodworm Is Active?

If you want to know if a woodworm infestation is still active, look out for frass; a fine clump of sawdust-like powder around the small circular exit holes. If you’ve cleaned away any frass, keep an eye out for fresh deposits near the exit holes.


Is Woodworm A Serious Problem?

Not all woodworm species are a serious problem for wood, but wood that has been exposed to woodworm over a long period of time can become brittle and even structurally compromised. 

To determine whether your woodworm infestation could cause a hazard or seriously damage the structure of the wood, you may need to seek out a woodworming specialist. 

Structural wood elements such as rafters, beams, roofing and any load-bearing wood should be looked at with a more serious eye. The type of beetle and the severity of the infestation will need to be investigated by a woodworm professional or someone with expert knowledge on the matter. 


How To Prevent Woodworm

The best way to prevent woodworm is to dehumidify your home as much as possible. Woodworm needs moisture to live and thrive, so removing excess damp from your home will help to keep the moisture content of various wooden furniture and structural components low. You can ventilate your home regularly, keep central heating constant during the winter and even invest in a dehumidifier if necessary. 

If you notice a piece of furniture with fresh holes and frass, remove it immediately to prevent any chance of the infestation spreading. You can also purchase beetle traps if certain rooms of your home are particularly vulnerable.

Untreated, unsealed, exposed and damaged wood can all be susceptible to woodworm attack. At Woodshop we offer a wide range of Interior Oils & Waxes to protect your indoor woods. 

By applying products such as Osmo 4006 Wood Protector, you’ll be giving your wooden furniture a high level of physical wood protection with brilliant water repellency.

Once you've added this base coat, you must completely seal the timber with an Osmo wood oil, such as Osmo 3032 Polyx - Clear Wood Oil, Osmo 3062 Polyx Hardwax Oil or Osmo Polyx Oil 'Tints' - 3044 Raw

Osmo 3058 Top Oil will also provide hardwearing protection on indoor joinery and worktops. Additionally, you can use Briwax Pure Beeswax Filler Sticks to fill in any small cracks or holes that make the perfect environment for woodworming beetles to lay eggs and breed larvae.