Woodworm & Other Wood-Boring Insects

Investigated & Resolved By Timber Heritage Experts


We do this

Investigate beetle problems in heritage and modern buildings


Which does this

establishes the extent of the problem


Giving you this

The best long-term solutions to control beetles

... leaving you free to move on

Timber Defects Originating From Wood Boring Insects

Establishing the following is essential to realising a successful outcome, click in to each point for a more details:

We follow a scientific approach to solving beetle and rot problem affecting both heritage and modern buildings and structures, utilising non-destructive techniques to establish the extent of decay. We are regarded as one of the UK’s leading providers of expertise to investigate and control timber decay and beetle damage, for both residential and commercial clients.

Identifying beetle species

It is essential to correctly identify the species, whether it's death watch beetle, common furniture beetle, woodworm, house longhorn beetle or weevil... we need to know as it will determine the solution.

Woodwormis a colloquial term used to describe the different wood boring insects (mainly beetles), that attack timbers in buildings.
Many buildings and structures in the UK will have suffered beetle damage at some point, and although there are many species of wood boring beetle, thankfully only a handful cause significant damage in buildings. Therefore, the correct identification of beetle species becomes essential for us to be able to differentiate between those species that actually can cause significant damage to timbers, and those species which died out before or shortly after the timber components were incorporated into your property; after all, you would not want to waste money or introduce unnecessary chemical preservatives into your home or place of work if the beetle population died out centuries ago…

Additional to finding adult beetles, there are many other features that help us correctly identify species, such as studying the damage characteristics of the timber - the size and shape of flight/emergence holes, the shape of frass, (the waste product) etc, you would not expect to see the larvae unless it was a very destructive investigation, as the lavae are often embedded deep within the timber.

What caused the woodworm?

Beetles utilise wood as a food source, with the larvae doing most of the damage as they feed off residual nutrients contained within the wood. However, in order for the beetle to able to infest the timber, it must ave became damp, as they are unable to infest dry timber.  Therefore it is the timber becoming damp that has caused the infestation, and it becomes vitally important to investigate how it initially became damp, and why it remained sufficiently damp to be able to support the beetle population.

Is the beetle infestation active or old?

Establishing the status of activity is necessary because if the woodworm damage is historic and is not structurally significant, then nothing needs doing, great! However, if the beetle infestation is active, we need to investigate the severity and extent of the damage to help us establish if the beetle damage is a structural issue now, or likely to present a risk in the future. We use a range of advanced diagnostic tools to assess the structural condition of timber components; utilising microdrill and ultrasonic decay detection equipment to help us better understand the level of damage and decay beneath the surface of the timber.

Is the beetle damage serious?

Assessing the significance of the damage is vital, as mentioned the beetle damage you see may have died out long ago - therefore it is essential that we establish if the infestation is active, moribund (dying out), or if the damage is historic; as our recommendations could be very different. Beetle damage is often confined to the sapwood sections of timber components unless the heartwood has been chemically modified by fungal activity, which then makes it more susceptible to beetle damage. The lifecycle of the beetle is greatly dependent on its species and environmental conditions, and varies from three years to over a decade, with suboptimal environments inducing a longer lifecycle.

Timber building conservation - caring for historic timbers

The already challenging task of controlling beetle problems takes on another dimension when the timbers in question are historically significant. HarperBD principal Lee Harper is qualified in timber building conservation and has been investigating and helping control beetle infestations and decay in both historic & modern buildings for over twenty years.  We collaborate on all types of projects, from ecclesiastical to industrial heritage, traditional cottages, stately homes to modern buildings... all assessed with the same level of care.

Long-term solutions - recommendations

At the end of our survey we will have all the information necessary to provide you with the best guidance and advice to solve any beetle problem. Our approach focusses on rectifying the causes of moisture, creating and maintaining an internal environment that is no longer attractive to beetle infestations and rot; this conservation-minded approach not only minimises the use of chemical preservatives and the inappropriate use of other remedial specifications, but it ensures minimum loss of timbers and materials (vitally important if a listed or protected building), and often saves clients £1000’s!

Timber defect services at a glance;

FAQ's regarding our timber services can be found here

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Further reasons to work with Harper Building Diagnostics

As a leading building pathology & diagnostic consultancy we work with clients all over the UK and ... beyond

We provide transparency, great communications and excellent support

We're proud to have many clients who consider us part of their team

We regularly present at industry events and professional CPD seminars

What past clients have to say,

"I have worked together with Lee of HarperBD on historic building projects  since I met  him in 2011, ranging from an Abbey roof structure to a working church bellframe and each with exacting requirements

I have always been most impressed by Lee's knowledge of the causes of timber decay, which are sometimes obscure and with this knowledge his ability to identify probable consequences whereas experience and the variety of equipment he carries accurately locate problem areas in an efficient and completely non invasive way.

The data provided in descriptive and graphic form is always very clear and precise, enabling repairs to be structurally quantifiable – and as we saw on occasion actually unnecessary.

I will not hesitate to return to Lee for future investigations."

Mark Taylor


Beech Tyldesley Architects

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