“We have been finding small white things (as well as other strange things) all around our house for at least a year now,” states this reader in her submission regarding the organisms displayed in the photographs below. She describes the situation as an “ongoing and life-consuming nightmare” and appreciates any advice we can give her about the creatures’ identity and how to get rid of them.
In addition to finding the “white things”, our reader states that the woodwork and walls in her home have been deteriorating at a faster rate than “what would be normal”. One night, our reader found a particularly large group of these creatures when cleaning out a spare bureau. Now, it is fairly difficult to tell what these organisms really look like; the resolution of the photos is simply not good enough to make out any specific details other than that they are minuscule in size and white in color, which our reader has already confirmed. That said, given what we can make out, as well as the fact that they have been found in wooden structures and may be causing their deterioration, we would guess that these are some type of woodworm.
The term ‘woodworm’ refers to the larvae of any species of the wood boring beetle, and they get their name from their diet, which primarily consists of wood. The most common species of the wood boring beetle include the common furniture beetle, powder post beetle and deathwatch beetle. Now, the physical description of a woodworm does match that of the creatures our reader has been finding, but what makes us doubt this identification is the fact that woodworms usually make themselves scarce and will not emerge from the wood that they are eating through. Regardless, this is still the most likely identification, and there are things our reader can look out for to confirm whether or not these are indeed woodworms. Signs include round tunnels running through the infested woodwork, frass surrounding the tunnels (it will look like sawdust), crumbling edges on woodwork, and weakened wooden structures.
Following this, there are products our reader can buy to treat the woodworm infestation herself, but as we are not professionals in this area, we do not feel comfortable recommending anything that may have potential side-effects that we are unaware of; we would not know what precautions one might have to follow if and when using any given product, as they may differ depending on the brand and type of insecticide. Regardless, we seldom advise the use of insecticides/pesticides anyway. For that reason, we would rather suggest that our reader consults a professional (such as pest control) to identity and treat the issue in her home. That being said, there are things our reader can do herself to prevent future infestations of woodworms, such as keeping her home well-ventilated, dry and warm, using varnish on her wood (that will make it more difficult for the larvae to burrow into the wood), removing any infected wood from her home (where possible), and purchasing and using hardwood instead of softwood (it is less susceptible to woodworm infestations).
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To conclude, the “small white things” our reader has been finding in her home are woodworms. We cannot say this with 100% certainty as we are not able to make out the specific details of their physical appearance, but if our reader looks out for the aforementioned signs of a woodworm infestation, then she can confirm this for herself. Likewise, if she does hire pest control to come and look at the infestation, then they too can confirm or deny this identification. We hope we answered our reader’s questions and helped in some way with her situation. We wish her the best of luck and hope that she gets this solved soon!