How to treat woodworms naturally

Fight woodworm: These home remedies help against the pest

The woodworm and the roebuck are pests, the larvae of which eat around wooden furniture with great preference. Regardless of whether it's smaller pieces of furniture or load-bearing wooden structures - the voracious wood pests stop at little. You can find out here how you can fight woodworms and the like effectively and naturally.

Fight woodworm: These home remedies help against the pest
Fight woodworms: These home remedies help against the pest

What is a woodworm?

Wood pests such as the woodworm (common rodent beetle, Anobium punctatum) or the house buck (large woodworm, Hylotrupes bajulus) are also simply referred to as woodworms in common parlance. Woodworm is primarily the worm-like larva of the pest. As the name suggests, it feeds exclusively on wood.

While the adult beetles do not cause us any problems in themselves, the woodworms can cause great damage to a large number of pieces of furniture through their feeding activities. In the worst case, they can even destroy the entire roof structure of a house.

Fight woodworms: These are the places where the pest lurks

Common rodent beetles and house longhorns are common all over Europe. The wood worm mainly affects everyday objects and furniture made of solid wood. It finds its optimal living conditions in places with high humidity and moderate temperatures. You will find it mainly in old, often agriculturally used buildings and basement areas. Since the pest prefers a minimum wood moisture of more than ten percent, you will rarely find it in centrally heated rooms.

The billy goat loves fresh coniferous wood, which is why it is very fond of roof trusses and wooden ceilings made of spruce or fir. For this reason, the wood pest is a possible danger, especially for a wooden house or new buildings in timber frame construction.

Recognize woodworm infestation

You can recognize an infestation with the woodworm by one to two millimeter large drill holes in the affected wood. Another indication are fine wood flour deposits, which are sometimes overlooked with the naked eye on a light background. To be sure whether there is an infestation, you can use the following trick: Place a dark piece of paper or a dark film under the possible infestation site. If wood dust collects on it after a while, it can be assumed that woodworms are at work here. Keep an eye on the experiment for several days, as young larvae often pause eating.

A high number of holes and a larger amount of drilling dust indicate advanced destruction in the interior of the wood. Since the worms live well hidden in the holes, you rarely see them.

Fight the woodworm preventively

There are different approaches to effectively preventing wood pests:

  • Make sure that the timber used is well dry. Because with increasing humidity, the risk of an infestation with wood tucks and co. Increases.
  • Never store your wood directly outside on the ground. Always place enough stakes or beams under the appropriate wood for storage so that the boards and battens do not have direct contact with the ground. If this is the case, complete drying is prevented due to the almost permanent soil moisture. In addition, the risk of fungal infestation increases with slight drying.
  • Store wood in drafty, sunny places - preferably under a canopy. Here the material is also well protected from above against too much moisture, for example rain.
  • Wood used outdoors can be treated preventively with weatherproofing agents. Although such glazes do not contain any defense substances against the woodworm, they still have a water-repellent and light-protective effect.
  • Check your roof structure regularly for woodworm infestation and moisture.

As soon as you discover damage, do not hesitate long and fight the woodworm immediately.

Effective biological control of the woodworm

The sooner you recognize and fight a woodworm infestation, the greater the chances of success. Since biological woodworm control is better for humans, animals and the environment, such a measure should always be the first choice. Here is an overview of effective biological agents and methods for combating woodworms.

Fight woodworms with the right moisture in the wood

In order to counteract the moisture-loving animals in a natural way, it is advisable to place the affected pieces of furniture in a centrally heated room for a longer period of time. Here the wood can dry out in peace. The woodworms die off as soon as the residual moisture drops below ten percent.

Fight woodworms with heat

You can put smaller pieces of wood in the oven. To do this, set the oven to 60 degrees Celsius and let it run for about an hour. Larger furniture is put in the sauna for a few hours. Even temperatures from 55 degrees Celsius can cause the wood-eating animals to die. But be careful: do not put wood that is too damp in the sauna. Otherwise, the heating can lead to small drying cracks in the wood.

If you don't have a sauna, you can put larger pieces of wood outside in the blazing sun in the warm summer. Wrap the affected pieces of furniture in a bit of black foil beforehand in order to heat them up to the desired temperature even faster.

Fight woodworm with cold

Similar to heat, cold also works against house buck and co. Put infected objects in the freezer. Larger furniture can be placed outside in dry weather at at least minus ten degrees Celsius.

Fight woodworm with acorns

Another biological method of combating woodworms is the application of acorns. To do this, place a few of them around the drill holes. The pests are magically attracted by the scent of the tree fruits. They leave the affected piece of wood to dig into the acorns and continue their eating activity there.

Fight woodworms with boron salt

So-called boron salt also helps preventively as well as combating this annoying pest. However, since the mineral salt cannot penetrate the wood far enough to reach the pests, the woodworms continue to cause damage for a certain period of time. Only when the full insect comes into contact with the salt does it work completely.

Fight woodworm with onions

Onions have established themselves as a tried and tested home remedy for woodworms. Rub the wood to be treated with a cut onion - the smell should be repellent to woodworms. However, the plants from the leek genus only help with low pest pressure.

When to get an expert to fight woodworms

If entire parts of the building, such as the roof structure or wooden ceilings, are infested with woodworms and you can no longer save anything with the biological control measures, you should consult an expert. This will take action against the pest with the hot air process, microwaves or the particularly aggressive and expensive method of fumigation.

Which wood is particularly popular with woodworms?

All types of the pest particularly like to feed on the young wood below the cambium - the so-called sapwood. The wood is softer and richer in protein than the dark heartwood. Therefore, the colored heartwood of pine (Pinus), larch (Larix) and oak (Quercus) is usually protected from wood beetle infestation. In general, it can be said that hard hardwood species such as beech and oak are generally less susceptible to woodworms than softwoods.

A so-called lamellar structure in the wood is associated with the corridors created by the larvae eating activities, which leads to a lower strength. Since the rodent beetles usually make themselves over the same piece of wood for several years, the material will almost completely dissolve over time.

The pests usually only attack processed and built-up wood. The age of the tree does not matter: a new garden bench is just as likely to be attacked by wooden beetles as the centuries-old roof structure. Fresh, naturally moist wood is usually not on the pests' menu. Wood beetles are more interested in dry hardwood and coniferous wood, and often also in ivy (Hedera helix).

Finally: the appearance and life of woodworms

The house buck is between eight and 26 millimeters long. It has two long antennae and a very flat body. Its strong chitin armor is brown to gray with one or two pairs of light hair spots.
The gray-brown woodworm grows to three to four millimeters in size. It can be recognized by its cylindrical looking stature and has wings on which there are rough rows of dots. The larvae of both types of beetles, which are well protected in the wood, are difficult to control.

When they hit their head, adult beetles make a certain sound at mating season. In this way, female sexual partners willing to mate are attracted. After a successful partner search and fertilization, the females lay their approximately 20 to 40 white, lemon-shaped eggs in wooden crevices and old feeding tunnels. The clutches can usually be found where the mother has already grown up. Since woodworms are able to fly, they can find new, better places to lay their eggs if necessary.

After about two weeks, the first larvae begin to hatch - immediately after hatching, they eat their way through the early wood of the affected objects. After passing through several growth cycles, the young animals pupate. In the affected wood you can see about a millimeter long, round exit holes.

Under favorable environmental conditions, the wood pests take about a year to fully develop, and a maximum of eight years can pass before they pupate. The development time of the woodworm depends, among other things, on the temperature, the humidity and the protein content of the wood.