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Protecting wooden structures and historical heritage from damage

Woodworm season is in full swing. Is your property safe from wood-destroying pests?

Typically, the woodworm season is considered to run from April to September. During this time, woodworms, in the form of beetles, emerge and become visible.

However, the damage they cause begins long before this and continues throughout the year. This prolonged process can lead to significant damage to valuable wooden furniture, structural timbers in homes, windmills, and historical heritage sites.

In this article, we will discuss the signs of wood damage, available treatments, and preventive measures. But first, what exactly is woodworm?

Understanding woodworm:

Despite the name, woodworm isn’t a worm as such. Instead, it’s a collective term for various beetles, such as the longhorn beetle and the common furniture beetle, whose larvae burrow through wood, resembling worms in their movement. These larvae bore tunnels in various types of wood, feeding on it as they go. The larval stage lasts about 3 to 5 years, giving them ample time to compromise the structural integrity of wooden elements like your roof, potentially leading to collapse. Repair or replacement of damaged structures can be costly.

Identifying wood damage:

Preventing wood damage is crucial to avoid high repair costs. Acting quickly at the first sign of woodworm in your house, windmill, property, or historical heritage site is essential.

Signs of a woodworm infestation:

Here are some indicators that you might have a woodworm problem:

  • Gnawing sounds: Active larvae make a gnawing sound as they tunnel through wood.
  • Exit holes: Small, round or oval holes in the wood, sometimes accompanied by bore dust.
  • Bore dust: Fine, sawdust-like powder that is actually woodworm excrement.
  • Weak wood: Wood that breaks or crumbles easily upon touch.
  • Visible beetles: Beetles emerging in the final stage of their life cycle.

What to do if you suspect woodworm:

If you notice any of the signs above, you likely have a wood-destroying pest problem. Identifying the specific beetle or borer is crucial for effective treatment and preventing further damage.

A thorough inspection by a professional can help determine whether you are dealing with, for example, the longhorn beetle, the deathwatch beetle, the powderpost beetle, or the carpet beetle. During the inspection, an inventory of the damage and its consequences is also made. EWS conducts these inspections and provides advice on suitable treatment methods.

Treatment options:

Depending on the severity of the infestation, different treatments are possible. A combination of treatments is also an option. In extreme cases, the affected wood is replaced. Additionally, you can take measures to prevent a new infestation. Below is an overview of the most common treatments:

  • Heat treament: Heating the core temperature of the wood to 48-56 degrees Celsius effectively kills the insects.
  • Impregnation: A surface treatment of the wood with a special control fluid effectively kills all insects and prevents a new infestation.
  • Fumigation: Fumigating with poisonous gas is an effective method to control wood-damaging pests in all stages of their life cycle.  

Here you can read more (in Dutch) about our fumigation services, with an example of the longhorn beetle: https://www.ews-group.nl/fumigation/houtaantastende-insecten/begassen-boktor/

Wood construction replacement

If your wooden structure is so damaged that treatment is not sufficient to prevent collapse, the wood may need to be replaced or remediated. In addition to treatments, EWS conducts inspections and reports, for example, during the purchase and sale of real estate. If desired, we can replace the wooden structure for you.

Preventive measures:

Naturally, we hope you can avoid a woodworm infestation altogether. Preventing infestations can be achieved by treating wood with a protective coating.

Regulating the humidity in your home or building is another preventive measure, as some woodworms prefer moist wood. Keeping your building well-ventilated reduces the risk of a new infestation.

Additionally, regular inspection of your wooden structures for the signs mentioned above can help you catch and address any potential problems early as well.

Need help?

If you need assistance protecting your wooden structures in your home, windmill, property, or historical heritage site, we are here to help. With years of expertise, we offer various solutions for both private and commercial clients. Interested in how we can assist you?

Feel free to contact Mr. Paul van Luit.

Office: +31 85 04 98 522
Mobile: +31 6 12 570 122
Email: p.vanluit@ews-group.com