All Creatures Great and Small
Having bought a home in the Northamptonshire countryside, I am prepared and sometimes even happy to share parts of our house (or at least some of the less frequented parts) with the occasional insect or small mammal.
At certain times throughout the year, it is no surprise to find a pipistrelle bat or mouse in the roof void; a daddy long legs in the under stairs cupboard; or a biscuit beetle making a dash for safety under the living room sofa.
Wood Boring Beetles
There are, however, several insects (specifically beetles) which are not quite as welcome. Certain types of wood boring beetle, if left to their own devices over a period of time, are capable of causing extensive damage to timbers.
The presence of wood boring beetles is only usually apparent when we see their exit holes in the wood together with associated ‘frass’ (the chewed remains of wood that they discard on the surface of the timber).
Some types of beetle will have spent up to five years happily chewing away beneath the surface of the timber before their presence becomes apparent.
The Perfect Habitat
The conditions must be suitable for a wood boring beetle to start an attack. Their favoured habitat is wood which has been slightly softened from moisture. Dampness to the timber within our homes could be increased to a level which makes it appetising for beetles due to many factors. Some of which include:
- Condensation from over-insulating a roof void without providing suitable ventilation.
- Introducing hermetically sealed double-glazed windows to an old property. Draughty windows sometimes provide inadvertent, but much needed, ventilation, which can help to mitigate condensation.
- Inserting cavity wall insulation which can increase the humidity levels within a property.
- Drying clothes on radiators and cooking on the hob without suitable lids to pots – again a major contributor to condensation.
Current climate change concerns are pushing through well-meaning, but often inappropriate insulation works without due consideration to improving ventilation within a property. This could soon mean that in many homes it will be lunchtime for wood boring beetles.
The following sketches and descriptions are intended to assist in the recognition of some of the more destructive species of wood boring beetle found in the UK.
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