Wooden Woodworkers: the special

Wooden Woodworkers: the special

Fertile individuals are characterized by being winged while sterile individuals are without wings.

The Soldiers, with a pronounced head, have developed jaws with which they dig into the wood.

Usually they are linked to the external environment but if the wooden artifact is in contact with the ground, they can attack it and nest.

The nest is built by the Queen who lays numerous eggs: from the fertilized ones the females will come out while the non-fertilized ones will give origin to the males. Check this termite treatment guide.

They are able to attack both coniferous and deciduous woods.

  • Wood Insects
  • Anobid Beetles
  • Small beetles (3-5 mm) capable of attacking both wood and its derivatives (e.g. paper).

The ability to digest wood depends on microorganisms (fungi, bacteria or protozoa) that reside in the intestine of the insect and are able to digest lignin and cellulose.

Anobid beetles do not deepen much in the wood, remaining in the superficial sapwood (first 4-5 cm).

The damage is therefore particularly serious on decorated artifacts.

Anobium punctatum

The furniture worm appears in May-June when it comes out of the flicker hole. The female is able to lay up to 40 eggs on rough surfaces or in ravines (rarely on smooth surfaces).

The furniture worm appears in May-June when it comes out of the flicker hole. The female is able to lay up to 40 eggs on rough surfaces or in ravines (rarely on smooth surfaces).

Within 2 weeks the larvae are born and begin excavating activity.

The complete cycle, depending on environmental conditions, can last from 1 to 2 years. If the environment is heated you can have even 2 generations per year.

It attacks both deciduous and coniferous wood.

Xestobium rufovillosum

It is commonly called the Death Clock because of the rhythmic noise it produces during the playback period.

Long even more than half a centimetre, the adult appears in March-April and the female, particularly prolific, lays up to 200 eggs.

The Great Woodworm has a very long cycle and the larva remains from 2 to 4 years hidden in the wood before becoming adult.

It causes considerable damage especially on chestnut, beech, elm, walnut and oak.

Beetles Cerambicides

Cerambicides are much larger than anorebians: reaching even 2-3 cm in length.

Tunnels are also much larger (up to a 1 cm section).

They preferably feed on the materials contained in the sapwood.

Hylotrupes bajulus

Adults appear between June and August and females sometimes lay their eggs before they even come out of the flicker hole.

Adults appear between June and August and females sometimes lay their eggs before they even come out of the flicker hole.

Each female is able to lay as many as a hundred eggs.

The capricorn of the houses prefers coniferous wood, but occasionally it can also be found on broad-leaved trees.

The complete cycle has a variable duration: from 1 to 7-8 years with peaks up to 17 years.

The wood is digested directly by cellulosolytic enzymes produced by capricorn itself.

The damage can be very serious as the attached artifacts strongly reduce its resistance and can be evident only after 2-3 years.

Trichoferus holosericeus

The biological characteristics are similar to the previous one except for the shorter cycle (1 to 3 years).

It attacks almost exclusively broadleaf trees. The damage is particularly severe on young wood used for restoration.

Kalotermes flavicollis

The yellow-necked termite is about 1 cm long and is able to nest in the voids of the walls, in the empty heads of the beams and in the wood drowned in the masonry as well as in the ground.

The nest is founded by two winged adults who mate. The female lays the eggs from which will come out the individuals that will form the colony, composed by 1000-2000 individuals.

In the summer period there is the swarming (abandonment of the nest by the wings).

Since termites work inside the wood in the absence of light, it is very difficult to notice their presence.

Hammering the beams with a hammer can be useful to identify dangerous gaps in the wood.

Reticulitermes lucifugus

While Kalotermes attacks dry wooden structures, thermite lucifuga prefers structures with high humidity levels (condensation points, rainwater infiltration).

The nests are also composed of tens of thousands of individuals and the swarming takes place at the beginning of summer.

The damage is very serious and erosion can also affect the entire section of a beam without anything visible on the outside. Danger of sudden collapses.

Formicidal hymenoptera

They are ants that nest in wood and for this reason they are called carpenter ants (wood ants). Able to colonize even living plants, they can be found in wood structures such as beams or door and window jambs.

The excavation activity is carried out with the strong jaws that tear the wood which is then taken outside.

The carpenter ants also feed on honeydew from aphids and other insects.

Their presence in houses during the winter months may suggest that the nest was built inside the building.

Crematogaster scutellaris

While the carpenter ants are generally black in the front and red in the back, the acrobat ants, so called because when disturbed they raise the abdomen highlighting the spine, are smaller and vary in colour from yellow to black (passing through red-brown).

They are also called red head ants due to the typical coloration of the head.

They are able to bite if harassed.

They are omnivorous and, unlike carpenter ants, they look for food even during the day.

Tarli Prevention

A living tree is able to protect itself from attacks by xylophagous insects through the production of substances (such as resins) that prevent the insects from penetrating the wood and spreading into it.

However, when the tree is cut down, the production of protective substances ceases and the wood can be attacked by xylophagous insects (otherwise called woodworms) which represent the greatest danger to the integrity of the structures (beams, floors, furniture, etc.).

In some cases the presence of woodworm can be a major damage. A massive attack of woodworm can have considerable effects if it involves the structural weakening of a load-bearing beam.

Preventing an infestation of woodworm essentially consists in preventing them from settling in wooden structures.

For a piece of furniture the practice can be facilitated. A piece of furniture treated and periodically polished with wax is more difficult to attack by woodworm.

The problem can occur when, on the other hand, you buy a piece of furniture that could contain woodworm because it is not properly disinfested. The “contagion” is a very frequent form of transmission and the introduction of an uncontrolled wooden artefact in an environment can be the cause of an infestation in places free from woodworm.

In doubtful and non-certified cases it is always better to carry out an antitarlo treatment for preventive purposes.

For a correct prevention it is also necessary to know the biology and the behaviour of the deterioration agents but also to verify the environmental and micro-environmental conditions in which the wooden artefacts are found.

Humidity, temperature, ventilation and light are the factors that can influence the settlement of woodworm.

Humidity is certainly one of the most important factors. The condensation that forms at the points of contact of the wood with the humid wall structures creates a microenvironment favourable to the settlement of anobids and termites.

The temperature influences the biological cycle of woodworm. In heated environments the duration of the cycle is shorter: shorter cycles increase the destructive activity of woodworm.

Aeration, on the other hand, plays a containment role as it reduces humidity stagnation and prevents the formation of condensation.

Finally, light hinders the first settlement of termites even if they are then able to evade the problem by digging tunnels impenetrable to light.

The physical state of the surfaces can also influence the settlement of xylophagous insects. Eggs are generally laid where surfaces are rough while, as already mentioned above, smooth and shiny (well cleaned) surfaces discourage the settlement of woodworms.

There are pheromone traps on the market that can perform a dual function: monitoring (checking the actual presence of woodworms) and prevention (males remain trapped in the trap and cannot fertilize females – interruption of the biological cycle).

The same mosquito nets on the windows can prevent the unwanted arrival of woodworms.

An unadvisable operation is instead the covering of an artefact with glass panes or mechanical profiles: in this way a greenhouse effect is created that speeds up the processes of weed development.

Prevention allows a greater protection of the product but does not guarantee with certainty the definitive reclamation.

The periodic control is fundamental because the alterations of the wood slowly appear and then assume a geometric progression. Sometimes the deterioration can be caused by a triviality: e.g. a broken tile that leads to infiltration.

Wooden artefacts, especially if of a certain value, must be checked at least every 1-2 years in order to check the health of the asset and intervene if necessary.

Preventive measures must be combined with monitoring interventions to verify the results obtained in order to protect the property treated.

The cost of this procedure is minimal if one considers the enormous benefits that can be derived from it.

The Antitarlo Treatment

The defence of wooden structures has the objective of eliminating woodworms that may be present and the preparation of methods and means to discourage possible re-infestations.

Chemical, physical and mechanical means can be used to protect infested structures.

Mechanical means, direct elimination of colonies or infested parts, is an inapplicable practice especially when we are talking about artefacts of historical and artistic interest.

As far as chemical means are concerned, it is necessary to refer essentially to insecticides (biocides) which, however, present various difficulties both in application and effectiveness.

The larvae (responsible for the biodeterioration process) are inside the wood and insecticides can penetrate only a few millimetres.

The use of gaseous products against woodworms is often frustrated by the fact that in the tunnels there is air that acts as a buffer and prevents the diffusion of gas.

The active substance of the insecticide is also degraded over time and is therefore destined to lose effectiveness.

The use of insecticides on decorated structures is strongly discouraged because of the possibility of causing colour alteration.

Finally, the customer’s strong concern about chemical residues that may persist in the treated material or the environment should not be overlooked.

Among the physical means, heating is certainly the most effective method.

Conventional thermal antitarlo treatments (High Temperature Treatments) involve heating the environment in which the product is contained. The heat is transferred from the air to the object to be disinfected but the process is slow (even more than a day in some cases) and involves the surface layers being brought to high temperatures in order to ensure the lethal temperature in the deeper layers.

Microwave technology does not involve heating the air but acts directly on the wood material to be treated which is brought to a temperature above the thermal threshold of the wood weeds.

Microwave treatment affects every vital stage of the insect (including eggs) and at any depth.

The effectiveness of the treatment is due to the sudden rise in temperature which does not allow woodworm to adapt to the new environmental situation or to escape. The temperatures reached in the treatment are higher than the thermal limit of the weeds and the typical thermal insulation of woodworm allows the maintenance of lethal temperatures for woodworm.

Traditional gas treatments require high preparation times and longer usage times due to the need to dispose of the gases and aerate the treated environments.

The treatment with microwaves leads to energy savings. The environments do not have to be evacuated and the accessibility is immediate: immediately after the treatment you can access the rooms without any fear of coming into contact with toxic residues of chemical substances.

I’m a pet and garden lover. This is my blog where I share experience and give advices regards gardening and pest remedies.
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