Insects that attack timbers do so mostly in forest and woodland habitats. We fill our properties with timbers as a building material and effectively lay out the insect's food material in extensive amounts (joists, floorboards, joinery and roof timbers) available for insects to infest. We encourage attack further by placing these timbers in areas where dampness can occur e.g. ground floor and roofs, and sometimes in areas where leakage of water onto local timbers can occur too e.g. bathrooms and kitchens. However, timbers do not necessarily need to be damp to be infested.
Pre-treatment of timbers with insecticide will prevent infestation but in older properties treated timbers have not usually been used in the original building. Design features of older buildings might encourage dampness to occur and insect infestation in these older properties is not unusual.
Types of beetles which can be treated include:
- Common Furniture Beetle
- Death Watch Beetle
- House Longhorn Beetle
- Powderpost Beetle
- Wood boring Weevils
Treatment/replacement of timbers requires a specialist advice to ensure the correct treatment is given (some insect attacks do not need chemical treatments), and this relies on correct identification of the infesting insect.
Use of insecticides is governed by Acts of Parliament (law) and Health and Safety Regulations and this requires specialist knowledge. Timber replacement must follow existing Building Regulations and guidelines to make sure that structurally the timbers can perform to specification.
Our work to deal with insect attack to timbers always starts with a visit to site to insect the problem. Sometimes no treatments are recommended, either because the insect does no structural damage or because an infestation looks old. There is always the strong possibility that a past treatment has already successfully been undertaken. Surveyors and companies are not allowed by law to recommend unnecessary timber treatments and must clearly justify any use of insecticides.
Where a treatment is recommended/required then this is usually a liquid insecticide applied by coarse spray directly onto the timber's surface. An alternative is the use of gels or pastes often applied close to inaccessible timbers (e.g. joist ends) with the ability of the compounds to diffuse into the inaccessible timber. Various chemicals are presently in use and include permetherin (a synthetic pyrethroid), boron (a naturally occurring mineral compound) and a relatively new group of chemicals which inhibit normal insect development (growth regulators). Our company primarily uses permetherin, offering boron as an option where there are health and/or environmental considerations.
Spray treatment to timbers is a relatively easy process, but is disrupting to the property occupants as everything (carpets, other floor coverings, furniture, fixings and etc.) has to be moved or movable to gain access to the surface of the timbers to be treated. After spraying Health and Safety regulations requires the minimum of 8 hours to elapse and surfaces to be dry before re-entry to a treated area and its reinstatement to habitable use.