Dead or alive?

Because woodworm holes are the points-of-exit for adult beetles, the damage will already have been done by the time you notice them.

In these days of central heating and better ventilation, timber in houses tends to be dry, which is not what furniture beetles like, so quite possibly your woodworm damage took place a long time in the past. But it is worth checking if the woodworm are still active, because, if so, treatment is required.

So, first clean away any dust and frass from the area. Then wait a few weeks and check whether there are any new holes and any new signs of frass. Spring is a good time to start, as this is when woodworm are most active. If you want, you can cover the infected area with a thin layer of paint, or stick a sheet of paper over it. Emerging adult furniture beetles will bore through this new surface to reach the outside, leaving new holes for you to spot.

Comments on this article

Laura Campbell 5 August, 2011

Having trailed through the internet to see if I can find out if woodworm is still active in an old piece of furniture I have just bought, this is the first piece of uncomplicated sound advice way of checking if they are still active or not. Thanks you very much for such an easy simple answer.

worried housebuyer 20 October, 2011

if you're buying a house and need to know if the woodworm are alive immediately how do you do this? Vendors will have swept up dust etc.

Building Surveyor 1 May, 2012

Hello Worried Housebuyer,

Advice may be a little late as you posted 6 months ago. It can be difficult to tell in October as this is when beetles are unlikely to emerge. Apart from dust, seeing live beetles is obviously a dead giveaway, also the timber exposed just inside the flight holes will appear 'fresh cut'. Timber exposed to air over time tends to get dull so bright, clean timber inside the flight holes can indicate young holes. This may only work with Common Furniture Beetle as Death Watch Beetle often use old exit holes. Hope this has helped.

Howard 2 January, 2014

Is the treatment different if the woodworm is active?

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