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The common furniture beetle (Anobium punctatum) in situ

Woodworm is the wood-eating larvae of many species of beetle. It is also a generic description given to the infestation of a wooden item (normally part of a dwelling or the furniture in it) by these larvae.[1]

Types of woodworm[edit]

Woodboring beetles with larvae commonly known as woodworm include:[2][3]


Wood affected by woodworm

Signs of woodworm usually consist of holes in the wooden item, with live infestations showing powder (faeces), known as frass, around the holes. The size of the holes varies, but are typically 1mm to 1.5mm in diameter for the most common household species, although they can be much larger in the case of House Longhorn beetle. Adult beetles which emerged from the wood may also be found in the summer months.

Typically the adult beetles lay eggs on or just under the surface of a wooden item. The resulting grubs then feed on the wooden item causing both structural and cosmetic damage before pupating and hatching as beetles which then breed, lay eggs, and repeat the process causing further damage.

These beetles evolved to consume decaying wood in forested habitats. Most if not all grubs typically require that the wooden items contain a higher moisture content than is normally found in items in a typical home.

A building with a woodworm problem in the structure or furniture may also have a problem with excess moisture. The issue could be due to a lack of ventilation in a roof space, cellar, or other enclosed space within an otherwise dry building.

Whilst moisture is a leading factor resulting in a woodworm infestation, some species of woodboring insect such as the Woodboring weevil are only found in instances where fungal rot has already begun to occur.


Depending on the species involved, woodworm infestation is generally controlled with insecticides. However, some woodworm conditions such as caused by the Waney Edge Borer (Ernobius mollis) require no treatment at all because the insect will have been killed in the preparation of the wood.[4] Only active infestations require treatment, so it is important to ascertain whether an infestation is still active before treatment is carried out.[3] It is also advisable to investigate and solve possible damp issues, as dry wood is not usually affected, and wood that remains damp may be re-infected at a later date.

"Electrical insect killers", which attract and kill the adult beetles before they can breed, may be used alongside conventional chemical treatments with the intention of killing the adult beetles before they can breed, but the effectiveness of such an approach is not known.

Additionally, there are freezing treatments, which are quite effective, but take two to three weeks, and which can cause a certain amount of damage. They are quite costly. Low-oxygen treatment is effective, but very time consuming, up to eight weeks, and is often expensive.


In some places (e.g. Cambodia, South Africa, the Philippines[5] and Papua New Guinea) people find woodworm local delicacies.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Woodworm". Cambridge Dictionary.
  2. ^ Hickin, N. E. (19 June 1958). "Woodworm and its control". New Scientist. 4 (83): 202–204. About three hundred different species of wood-boring beetles are known as occurring in our domestic woodwork indoors, but of these only seven are of frequent occurrence, and it is to the larval or grub stage that we apply the description 'woodworm'.
  3. ^ a b "Woodworm Identification & Treatment".
  4. ^ Hugh McArthur and Duncan Spalding (2004). Engineering Materials Science: Properties, Uses, Degradation, Remediation. p. 449. ISBN 978-1898563112.
  5. ^ Video on YouTube. Retrieved 2018-10-09.