Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum)
Furniture Beetles (Anobium punctatum) are without a doubt the most common type of woodworm found in the UK. These tiny larvae can cause untold devastation to wooden furniture and the wooden components of buildings.
The Key Facts About Furniture Beetle
While furniture beetles are indeed a species of beetle, they only spend a very short period of time as a mature insect. With a lifespan of between 3 and 4 years, the vast majority of this time is spent in the larval stage. This is because as adults, furniture beetles will not eat- they only exist to reproduce. Female beetles will seek out cracks in wood to lay her eggs, or else lay them into the exit hole that she herself left when she emerged from such wood as an adult.
After a period of about three weeks, these eggs will hatch into tiny larvae, about 1mm in length. From this point onwards, the furniture beetle larva will spend its time incessantly burrowing through wood, eating as it goes. While their movements are seemingly random, there is a method behind their behaviour. Furniture beetle larvae seek out the starchy veins running through wood grain, since these contain more nutrients, and then follow them until they reach a dead end. This process continues for years until the larva reaches maturity, so you can imagine how much destruction they can cause in this time. In their larval stage, furniture beetles can grow up to 7mm long.
When it is time for the beetle to pupate and thus become a mature adult, they will tunnel their way to just below the surface of the wood. Once mature, they then burst out, leaving an exit hole behind. It is often said that the bodies of adult furniture beetles resemble a monk’s robe, and once you know what you are looking for they are relatively easy to identify. Since the adult beetles don’t feed, though, they will only be around for a few days at most before dying off.
Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum)- Significance of Control
As should be clear from the above description of the furniture beetle lifecycle, these pest insects can devastate any and all wooden objects and structures they come into contact with. This makes them a major pest species, and one which needs to be dealt with quickly to limit the damage they cause. Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to detect the active woodworms once they are inside timber, short of sawing the affected area open. Rather, the main method of detection for furniture beetle larvae is to look for the tiny holes that they leave in the wood when they emerge as adults. These will be around 1.5mm in diameter, and if there is a trace amount of dust around the hole, it means it was made recently- indicating an active furniture beetle infestation.
Home furniture beetle treatments are available, usually in the form of an aerosol spray. However, these are only effective at killing the adult beetles, as the larvae that do the damage will generally be safely within the infected wood and thus out of reach of the spray. For this reason, it is best to call in pest controllers if you notice any signs of an infestation.
The treatment of a furniture beetle infestation will depend on the severity of the outbreak. If the issue is less serious, then it may be possible to use simple insecticides to deal with it. Alternatively, replacing the affected timber is an effective solution if the infestation is limited to just one or two pieces of furniture. On the other hand, a widespread outbreak may require fumigation to completely eradicate all the furniture beetles present- otherwise, they will keep coming back time and again.
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