About the woodworm
In the workshop today I was sanding an old closet, that in my eyes wasn’t really worth the long hours of work. It wasn’t made of particularily valuable wood, covered with a foil in a darker brown and on top of that it was almost completely eaten by this little animal that we call the woodworm. Many tiny holes, little traces of dust and porose wood. I asked my collegue, how he knows they were dead. He said: “You never know. Sometimes they just sleep for ten years until they get hungry again.”
I got interested in these little genious-survivors and hope you are, too.
Meet the Petite Vrillette!
Or the “furniture beetle”, but the french name has a much more positive tone and since most people probably hate these little guys, lets try to open our minds and discover one or two things that are actually likable about them.
Can woodworms move from one chair to the other?
Well technically the woodworms can transform your house into a huge hotel for their kind, but only once they hatched. The little worms are just the newborns, coming out of the eggs that their mother placed in a peace of dead wood. Unfortunate for us, they don’t see the difference between a baroque wooden table and a dead tree in the forest.
Because the mother beetle likes to bring her eggs to the same place in which she grew up, it is very likely after some time the next piece of furniture is used as a nursery. Back to the roots! If there is a furniture beetle in your house, it is likely to stick around.
Do they threaten the forests?
Now if you asked a tree what he (or she) thinks of the woodworms, they wouldn’t see them as a threat. When you are in the forest and look at the ground on the foot of a tree, like the European silver fur in the picture above, you see many baby trees that germinated from the seeds. They exchange nutrition over a network of mycelium, with all the trees surrounding, but of course a mother recognizes her kin, so she favours them. During the lifetime of the mothertree, the little ones get attention over this exchange, they grow more healthy and strong.
When branches fall and once the time has come and a tree dies, the wood suddenly becomes food for the soil. And the degradiation process starts with worms and bugs that are specialized in dead wood, like the furniture beetle. So they help enrich the soil, feed the baby trees, what a useful job!
How do I know, if there are still active woodworms in my furniture?
The worms can “sleep” over eight years without showing any new traces of their kind. Normally, when the temperature and moisture of the wood are appealing, they start eating. Then you can find very fine wood-dust on the floor or the furniture itself. But to be sure, you should observe the piece over a few weeks, since they sometimes simply make a long break between the meals.
While I think differently about the woodworm now, I still don’t want them anywhere near my home! So how do I protect my wood from become a worm-nursery?
- the fire wood in the house should be very dry, because the woodworms prefer moist wood
- don’t store your fire wood inside your house for too long, use it within two days
- don’t keep the fire wood close to the fireplace; if you have woodworms in this wood, they are likely to hatch real quick in this warm atmosphere
- keep the humidity in your rooms under 60% (a hygrometer helps checking, costs around 12 €)
- take care of a regular ventilation
- check your roof framework for humidity
- check new second-hand furniture for holes
Do woodworms prefer certain kinds of wood?
They do prefer sap wood, which is very protein rich right under the bark, that includes the spruce, pines and firs. That unfortunately doesn’t stop them from leave trees though.
Of course there is a market of chemical helpers to get rid of the worm, apart from the environmental questionability of this method, it can be tricky to get the poison into every little whole.
If you have a valuable piece of furniture, get it to a carpentry to find out about the damage already done. If the furniture is still usable, a heating chamber (like a sauna) will help to bake the worms as well as the eggs with a constant temperature of 55 degrees over at least one hour. This should be done in a professional chamber, because a steady temperature is essential. If only a small piece of wood is affected, you can try to fit it in the oven (1 hour, 55 degrees)
A cheaper trick only requires some acorns. Put them on a plate as close to the holes as possible. As soon as you see wood-dust on the acorns, throw them away and with the worms. This should be done at least two, or three times within a view weeks.
If you have petroleum and wax in the house, you can pour some petroleum in the holes and close them with wax afterwards. Repeat this process two or three times. Of course it is not guaranteed you find all the holes, but it is a much cheaper way.