This fact sheet can be used for identification of Furniture beetle or woodworm should your collection become affected by pests. Included below are photographs of the adult and larva and information on the life cycle, how to spot signs of damage and the materials likely to be affected and similar species of pest.
Latin name: Anobium punctatum
The adults are 3mm – 4mm long, dark brown elongated beetles with lines of punctures on the wing cases.
The head is not visible from above and the thorax is strongly humped. Often confused with the biscuit beetle which is reddish-brown and does not have the hump [see Factsheet 3].
The larvae are 0.5mm – 5mm long and are not normally seen as they live in tunnels in the wood. They are white and strongly curved in a C shape with short legs.
Adult beetles will lay eggs in cracks or end grain. When the larvae hatch, they tunnel into the wood. They live their whole life inside the tunnels which get larger as they grow. The eggs and young larvae will not survive if the wood is below 12% moisture content or the relative humidity is below 55%. The larvae may take 2 to 5 years to complete their growth and then they pupate near the surface of the wood. The adult bites its way out in Spring or early Summer making a characteristic 1.5 to 2mm diameter round exit hole.
Signs of damage
Emergence holes in wood. Old holes will look dark and dirty. New holes will look fresh and sharp. Fresh holes will have piles of bore dust called frass underneath. Frass pellets feel gritty and are wheat grain shaped when magnified.
They will attack many hardwoods which have high levels of starch and sugar. Ash, beech and elm and oak sapwood are attacked but sound oak heartwood is not at risk.
Oak sapwood has been attacked, dark heartwood is undamaged. They will readily attack old plywood with animal protein adhesive.
Is the infestation active?
This can sometimes be very difficult to establish. Holes do not mean that the infestation is active. If the wood is dry and the relative humidity is below 55%, then the infestation is probably longdead. Look for fresh frass and new adult beetles in the Spring near undisturbed objects or timbers. Old frass will often fall out of cracks and emergence holes when objects are moved or dry out. Old frass is not a sign of active infestation.
Similar woodboring species: Fan-bearing woodborer (Ptilinus pectinicornis), Death watch beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum).