Woodworm, Capricorns, Furniture Beetles or Something Else!


earlier this week, typically before returning to UK to give us something else to worry about (!), underneath one of our oak beams was quite a lot of grey dust with 2 tiny grubs-very small & cream in colour with a dark end. The source seemed to be a cross-section where a smaller beam crossed one of the massive beams in the living room.

I read the earlier post about termites & capricorns & did reply, but that seems to have disappeared! There have been no nocturnal tapping or crunching noises as far as we know.

Thought about getting some woodworm spray from B&Q or somewhere.

However, would very much appreciate any other suggestions or advice.

After selling our newish house in the UK this 300 year old place in 33 is presenting lots of issues that are far from my previous experience. In UK it would be Rentokill (!), who do we contact in France, I wonder?

All the best,


The fact that it is only guaranteed for 10 yrs, is, I suspect, so that no-one ever calls on that guarantee....

Vivien Chapman, just sent me a very helpful message about the bugs. I have just asked her permission to post it on the thread.....

Many thanks Dominique, your advice has been very helpful. We are a bit late getting to France this year as we are building in UK but hope to be there in about 10 days so I will check again once I have cut the grass!

It does sound like death watch beetles (Hylotrupes bajulus) This is the right time of the year for them to come out. (I would paint the beams (or spray) with the 25 years variety of xylophene and keep a watch on frass falls. Do check your beams by tapping and it cannot hurt to inject the flight holes, but do not have any extra holes made.

There is another conservator probably more up-to date than myself called Vivien Chapman, I will ask her to have a look at that thread.

The holes are about 4-5mm in diameter. The dust on the floor underneath is clean and very fine. Good news that they are not termites. The others don’t seem as worrying. We have had a few wrap nests but these were the “usual” papery Brussels sprout type.

I got in touch with<<http://www.les-termites.com/>&gt; in 2010 and they were happy to sell me the traps, but i Had to push and explain that i was a qualified environmental museum conservator blah blah. by now there must be other companies.

This said as i wrote earlier, termites do not send of frass (dust) it stays in their galleries. look at the size of the holes it should tell you if it is vrillettes (woodworms) or capricorns (death watch beetles), it could also be carpenter wasps but the it is wood shards. Do not panic and beware of anti bug contractors, they all seems to be economic with the truth and make the whole job a lot worth than it reqally is.

Hi Dominique

Your traps sound quite interesting. I have sprayed the beams in our barn and the house with Xylophene and also injected it into any holes I found. We still seem to get small piles of dust on the floor or the car form time to time and thee is usually a clean hole above the spot. We did have a certificate when we bought the house and we are not in an area where termites are common. A few "traps" put on the beams here and there might be a useful addition to prevent any strangers making a home in the house or barn.

Where could I buy the traps?

Thanks Debbie. That sounds like a good idea. However, we've now bought the Sika Wood Treatment from Screwfix in UK & I'll read the instructions carefully. It is our last day in UK today & a day of rest! Have done lots of driving seeing our nearest & dearest, buying new lights, steak, horseradish, plain muesli, a lost in transit dinner knife & a small wooden table & chairs for our patio. A real miscellany.

Can't wait to get home...



You can get Xylophone as a gel that you paint on, it's far less messy than a spray and easier to control.

Get yourself a decent garden sprayer (I use a 3 Bar professional spray...because it looks professional). Wear gloves googles and a face mask.

You should leave the room closed for up to 8 hours then aerate fully before going back in.

Plants animals and fish should also be removed for that period of time.

Also note some products can affect marble flooring and oil paintings, so read the label first!



Thanks to everyone for your helpful replies. We are in our motorhome staying at a lovely Camping Club site just outside Cambridge visiting family & friends.

In Googling Woodworm Treatments I discovered that Screwfix sell Sika Sikagard that contains Permethrin so I think I'll try that as a starter.

Be interesting to see what we find when we get home after EuroTunnelling back on Thursday?

All the best,


Permethrine is safe when used correctly. Yes it can kill cats, but so can milk. I don't go into the scaremongering, just read the label on how to apply properly. The anti xylophages and anti fungi contains the following ingredients:

  • Composition : 4 g/l de PermĂ©thrine 10 g/l de Propiconazole
  • Dosage : 300 ml/m²

James Higginson, the owner of SFN went for injecting his wood, perhaps his comments would be useful.

It is bizarre that Xylophene "for amateur use only" is guaranteed for 25 years, whereas the professional stuff is only guaranteed for 10!

Hope that helps.


Hi Roger

I had some form of woodworm in a pine wardrobe indoors and also some in the ceiling beams in an old farm building. I happened to have a spray can of flea killer, which I had bought at the local supermarket to treat my cats - until I discovered that permethrin can kill cats! (Please never use dog flea treatments, or anything containing this nasty substance on cats). I used this product on the effected wood and had no more problems with infestation. Just an idea for you to consider.


Hi Rob, Do you by chance provitde anti-bugs treatment? I just went to see the xylophene site and They appear to have only 2 types of insecticide, one is also a fungicide. I doubt it is permethrine as P stop been efficient when exposed to light. Xylophene is still giving a 25 year warranty which might be enthusiatic but they certainly are good for 10 years. Their site is well conceived and easy to understand with a minimum of French. It is unfortunately still quite poisonnous to everybody.

Xylophene is a trademark and wood treatment comes in various strength. I use a professional version but the active ingredients are the same "permétrine".

There's nothing wrong with the product you get at the bricolage with regard to killing wood boring critters. Its the application which is important.

Feel free to PM me for more info.


spray Xylophene from agricultural suppliers (gam vert) or even Leclerc banned all over Europe but thank god still sold in France wear serious protective gear with Hepa filters if you are nervous about it. Termites do not leave frass (dust) this is the danger as it does not usually show until the house falls down but there are really neat poison traps for termites once a termite walk through it he gives the plague to the whole colony. Injecting beams is a nonsense, totally useless invented by french bug killers to cost you a lot of money.

Roger, have a look at this link which should take you to some other SFN articles on the subject. As you will see, we suffered from Death Watch Beetle last year!

Best of luck!


Type into your Google search engine - wood eating bugs- or click the link below:


This is a link to wood eating bugs images.

After consulting the pictures and going by your description, it could be termites.

Take a look at the pictures to try and identify the culprit.

Hope this helps.

Thanks Shirley, it said there were signs of some activity but nothing recent. Given the property is over 300 years old we thought that was OK. I will follow your suggestions on our return from UK.
All the best,