There seems to be a number of small holes in some of the timber panelling in my home and I'm now concerned that there may be some sort of insect infestation in the house. How can I be sure?
unfortunately it is the case that a number of insects, mainly beetles, look on the timber in houses as a likely food source with some particular types capable of causing fairly substantial damage. But on the brighter side just because there is evidence of wood boring insects does not necessarily mean that remedial treatment is necessary. It is important to identify first whether the infestation is active and then what type of insect is squatting in your home.
By examining the infected area, you can usually identify whether the insect infestation is active. If the holes have sharp rather than round edges and the dust surrounding the holes is the colour of freshly cut timber then you can safely assume some activity. If you're still not convinced then you should observe the area for changes for a period of time.
Once you have established their existence, the type of insect needs to be identified in order to assess whether treatment is necessary.
Primary treatment is necessary where the insects are a primary source of serious damage and they attack sound wood. Some of these insect types can cause structural damage and with these a structural survey may be necessary. Examples of this type include the deathwatch beetle which mainly attacks oak causing 3mm circular holes and cream coloured dust. However this particular type of beetle isn't very common in Ireland.
Primary treatment is also need for the common furniture beetle which causes holes of 1-2mm in diameter with cream coloured gritty dust.
Secondary Treatment is necessary only where the source of dampness needs to be removed for treatment. Some insects feed only on damp wood rotted by fungi, so by removing the dampness, your insect infestation will be history. Examples of this type of insect include wood boring weevils and stag beetles.
No treatment is needed when the timber has been damaged by insects which attack green or partially dry timber. The insects will have usually been killed during the drying process and no remedial treatment is usually necessary.