Mosquitoes flying around

What are Woodworms? And How to Get Rid of Them

May 23, 2023

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

The woodworm is a destructive household pest that feels most at home in damp wood, where they can survive for many years. They typically cause damage to wooden structures, old wooden furniture, or moist wood in unfinished areas like attics, garages, and basements. Use this guide to learn about woodworms and how to remedy a woodworm infestation.

What is a woodworm? 

Woodworms are actually the larvae of Anobium punctatum, or common furniture beetles. These woodworm larvae hatch from eggs laid on wooden surfaces and quickly burrow into their wooden home. Depending on the conditions of their environment, these wood-eating worms can take anywhere from one to eight years to fully develop into their adult beetle stage.

Woodworm larvae eating wood

What do woodworms look like?

The wood-boring beetle larvae are typically unnoticeable by the naked eye. They’re cream-colored and have a distinct C-shape. As they feed on wood, they produce a network of tunnels packed with bore dust. Once grown to their full size, they pupate for six to eight weeks.

The adult beetles feature anywhere from 0.10 to 0.18 inches and are a dull reddish to dark brown. They have fine grooves running lengthways along their wing cases and antennae shorter than their legs. The adult beetles don’t feed. They emerge in early summer and live for about two to four weeks, with the females laying anywhere from 20 to 100 eggs, which will hatch in around four weeks.

Are woodworms harmful to humans?

Thankfully, woodworms are not directly harmful to humans. However, some parasites have been linked to woodworms that can harm humans, including Scleroderma Domesticum, a cuckoo wasp species. A female Scleroderma Domesticum can sting humans who come into close contact with affected lumber. A sting from a cuckoo wasp will typically cause red swelling and a minor rash that goes away on its own over a few days.

What are the signs of woodworms?

The most common sign of these larval worms is the telltale exit holes they create when they emerge as adults. Check any wood source in your home, including furniture, decor, and walls and floors. If you see small, rounded holes dotting the surface, you’ve likely got a woodworm problem.

If you’re concerned that the lumber you’re using is infected, cut a piece in half and look for tunneling. The tunnels will look like small, rounded lines weaving through the wood. You may also come across frass or larvae waste. It looks like fine, powdery dust that ranges from rust-colored to pure white. You often find frass on the floor or behind the infected wooden furniture.

Signs of woodworm damage to a bed leg

How do I get rid of woodworms?

The best way to avoid a problem is to focus on woodworm prevention and ensure you don’t bring already-infested pieces into your home. To prevent woodworm from causing damage to your wooden furniture pieces, check any vintage or thrift pieces you purchase for boreholes before bringing them into your home. Woodworms in old furniture are common and, because of their extended maturing period, they can be present in pieces for years before emerging and reproducing.

Can I treat woodworms myself?

Removing woodworms is challenging because they bore deeply into wooden structures and aren’t visible to the naked eye. If you notice your wooden furniture or wood structures have boreholes, your best bet for woodworm treatment is to contact a professional pest control service.

How long does it take to get rid of woodworms? 

Depending on the services you get and how bad your infestation is, woodworm treatment can vary from one day to one week. Woodworm treatment for furniture is typically faster than dealing with woodworm in your home’s roof timbers, built-in structures, or structural support systems. If the damage is extensive, repairs and replacements may take much longer.

Pest control services 

Hire a professional pest control service like Hawx Pest Control to ensure you get the best woodworm treatment available. With proven methods, qualified technicians, and the top products and services available, Hawx is the undisputed leader in pest control solutions. Our friendly professionals are ready to help you and provide woodworm treatment all year round. We use a three-fold process to address infestations thoroughly and create a custom treatment plan to suit your needs. Call us today for a free estimate to get the woodworms in your house under control and restore peace to your home.

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