Woodworm: the life cycle

The three most common species of woodworm do not, unfortunately, exhaust the very large family of these insects.


All of these insects have a similar life cycle and thrive in a moist environment, where they devour baseboards, roofing lumber, attics, floors and crawlspaces.

If the Xestobium rufovillosum, vulgarly called "the deathwatch" because of the characteristic noise emitted, attacks mainly hardwoods, and in particular the oak.

Others, however, such as Pentarthrum huttoni and Euphryum confine, prefer wood that has already been attacked by fungi and that is located in humid environments.

On the other hand, the common furniture woodworm eats practically any type of wood, which also explains how it can cause more damage than all other species put together.

The life cycle of woodworms can be summarized in four basic phases:

  1. In the first phase, the adult female lays up to 80 eggs in cracks and crevices in the wood, as well as in joints and old flicker holes.
  2. After 3 to 5 weeks, the larvae emerge and immediately burrow into the wood where they begin to feed on cellulose.
  3. During the next 3 to 4 years, the larvae will dig tunnels inside the wood and end up eating about 2 inches of wood per year and then arrive in close proximity to the surface.
  4. When they are close to the surface, the larvae turn into chrysalises and end up emerging from the wood, still chewing, after about 6 to 8 weeks.
    Through the flickering hole the adult woodworms emerge to the outside to reproduce.
    After mating, the male dies on the same day, while the female survives until the laying of the eggs that will ensure the life cycle of the species.

These four phases summarize the life cycle that is common to all species of woodworm, although with different times.

Wanting to ascertain the presence or absence of woodworms in our furniture, we will have to turn into little investigators and look for clues that will give us the proof.

First of all we must check if there are small holes through which woodworms fly away, in the summer months, after becoming adults and ready to mate.

Since in order to make an accurate inspection it is necessary to turn the house upside down, the best thing to do is to make this inspection during the spring cleaning, so as to avoid the hassle of moving the furniture twice, making a double work and a double effort.

It is necessary to proceed in a systematic way, paying particular attention to the furniture placed in places subject to humidity, furniture that could be affected by imputrescence and mold, as well as by the presence of woodworms.

Obviously, as soon as the presence of woodworms is detected, it is advisable to perform a woodworm treatment, brushing the surface of the furniture or, if this is not immediately feasible, injecting the anti-wormwood directly into the holes with a syringe.

Since permethrin gives off a smell that is not too pleasant, make sure the room where you want to carry out the treatment is well ventilated.