If you’re just sitting down for your breakfast/lunch or supper, I suggest not to read this blog post right now. This isn’t to give you the Heebie Jeebies, just to keep you aware. Most of the time woodworm is treatable so it’s going to be ok!
What is woodworm?
Woodworm is a larvae that eats wood. There are loads of different species of woodworm. I will share the woodworm lifecycle below so you can get a better understanding of what it is exactly. The damage to wood occurs in the larvae stage. The larvae stage can last for up to 5 years.
Woodworm thrive in dry but damp conditions, so make sure if your next upcycle project is in your garage to check it for woodworm first. This doesn’t mean every piece you put in your garage is going to have woodworm but it’s just something to keep an eye on. Also keep an eye out in a home where there might be a damp area. It’s unlikely you will spot the physical woodworm itself.
Cycle of Woodworm
Woodworm is most active in the months April-September.
The ideal environment for woodworm is Dry and Damp conditions.
If you see any signs of woodworm, treat immediately and remove the item from your home.
Stage One: The adult lays eggs in a piece of furniture, in previous woodworm holes or cracks in the timber.
Stage Two: Larva. The eggs hatch down into the wood and develop into the larva, they eat through the timber causing structural damage.
Stage Three: Pupa. The larva turn into Pupa and then into an adult. They eat through the timber and that’s where we see the holes emerge.
Stage Four: The adult woodworm lays her eggs into previous cracks and holes.
Four things to check if the piece of furniture has woodworm before you buy.
- A series of little holes
These holes are the exit holes and you will usually spot them first on the ends/feet of a piece of furniture.
- What looks like really fine saw dust
You can spot this in the floor around your piece of furniture, when you remove a drawer or you can see it on the rungs. It’s not to be confused with dust. This will look like a pale yellow saw dust.
- Areas crumbling on your hands
If you can crumble an area away with your hands and see a series of little tunnels, this is a very badly affected piece. Not it be mistaken for wood rot.
- A full inspection before you buy
Always check the inside of drawers, under seat pads and backs. Give the whole piece a really good look over before you buy it. I normally use the light on my phone to help me have a complete look.
Things to remember when treating for woodworm
- The holes are where the woodworm has exited the piece. Only treating these areas not going to get rid of the woodworm. The whole piece needs to be treated.
- No matter where you see the woodworm on the piece, even if you remove a badly infected area ( like a back panel) you need to treat the whole piece of furniture.
- If you spot woodworm remove the piece from your home to prevent the spread of woodworm. Completely treat it before you bring it back into your home.
- Always wear protective gloves and clothing including a mask and treat only in well ventilated areas. There are strong chemicals in woodworm killer.
- Always read the label of the woodworm killer, don’t presume you know how to use it. Different brands will have different instructions and guidelines.
- If your piece is varnished, you need to sand before you treat it. This ensures the product doesn’t just sit on the surface and not penetrate the wood.
Personally, if I bought a piece for my home that had a little bit of woodworm in it, I would still buy it and treat it properly. Woodworm killer exists because it works. But if I was selling furniture or using it in my workshops I would stay well away from woodworm.
I get my woodworm treatment in my local expert hardware, click here to find a store near you
Where would you find woodworm? It can be anywhere there is wood, from furniture to joists to the handles on tools.
Once its treated will it come back? If you treat the piece correctly the woodworm won’t come back. It may return only if its put into an environment similar to where it came out of e.g. dry but damp.
Should I treat any old piece of furniture I buy for woodworm just in case? There is no need. I have seen woodworm in every kind of wood and in new pieces of furniture. You don’t need to treat it just because its old.
What should I do if I find woodworm in the floor boards of an old house? At this stage you need to get a professional to assess what needs to be done. They can assess if it is anywhere else in the house and treat it correctly.
If you have any other questions or comments, pop them down below
If your interested in upcycling furniture this blog post about what else to look for when you are trying to buy a piece to paint it also might help, Click HERE