Borer is also known as Furniture Beetle, Woodworm Beetle and Bora Beetle and is a pest of major economic importance in New Zealand. Find out how to get rid of this annoying bug with a few handy tips….
What is Borer
House borer (both Anobium punctatum and the native Leanobium flavomaculatum) is a pest of major economic importance in New Zealand, the significance of which is not yet adequately recognised. As New Zealand houses get older the damage to timbers accumulates and attacked timbers become progressively weaker. It is not uncommon for weatherboards, floorboards, joists and other structural timbers to need replacing due to weakness caused by borer. The holes and labyrinths created by borer larvae also allow water to penetrate many timbers and increase rot by fungi.
Adult borer beetles are 3 – 5mm long, dark-brown/black in colour, and are clearly identifiable with the humped (hooded) ‘shoulder’ (prothorax) which covers the head.
You may not notice the beetles except when they collect on the window sills or corners of the rooms in your house, but you will notice the tell tale flight holes in the surface of weatherboards, wooden furniture, panelling, skirting, doors and door frames, eaves, window frames etc. It is also wise to check the sub-floor and roof timers of your house for signs of borer infestation, it is in these structural timbers that they can do the greatest harm to your house.
The larvae (woodworm), after 2 – 4 years spent tunnelling inside the wood will exit as the adult beetle via a round hole, 1 – 2mm in diameter. Cutting out this trapdoor is their final wood destroying act. They emerge in order to breed, will not eat any more timber and will die within 3 – 4 weeks. But the eggs the female lays on available bare wood or old flight holes will keep the cycle of destruction going.
How to Get Rid of Borer from Your House
Treatment of timbers to remove borer infestation is the same for whichever species is present.
- Treat any bare wood with solvent based insecticidal borer fluid. Solvent based insecticides using turpentine or kerosene will penetrate deep into the timber and will kill larvae as they eat the wood. The insecticide also prevents adults laying eggs on the surface. In normal circumstances this will protect the wood for many years.
- The solvents used to carry insecticide deep into the timbers will leave a solvent smell for some days. Ventilation will help to dissipate the odour.
In areas where the smell would be unacceptable there are water based options but these do not penetrate as deeply and will not give as good long term control.
- Inject flight holes in painted, varnished or polished timbers with aerosol injection fluid. This comes supplied with a nozzle for fitting into the flight holes. The aerosol forces insecticide into the labyrinth created by the borer larva, killing any larva in the labyrinth or nearby. It also prevents adult beetles laying eggs in the flight hole.
- During each flight season (October-May) set off borer bombs in roof voids and sub-floor areas. These knock down adult beetles that would lay eggs on the exposed timbers and give some protection to the surface of the timbers.
- Borer prefer timber that has some moisture in it. Ensure that your sub-floor is dry and well ventilated. Check for plumbing leaks and unblock all air vents. Check for leaks in the roof and if you have old terracotta or concrete tiles. These can act like sponges soaking up water and increasing the relative humidity of roof voids. Check that tiles are well sealed with masonry or terracotta sealer to prevent moisture penetration.
How to Get Rid of Borer from Your Furniture
1. Furniture is often polished, varnished, painted or otherwise sealed. Solvent based borer fluid may damage polish and varnish or paint will prevent penetration of insecticide. Polish, paint, varnish or other sealant would need stripped prior to use of solvent borer fluid.
2. If stripping is not an option then injection of all flight holes with borer aerosol injector, taking care to promptly wipe off any fluid that spills on the surface, will kill eggs and larvae prevent re-infestation via the flight holes.
3. Check and repeat on any new flight holes found during the flight season for at least three years.
4. If the furniture is a particularly valuable piece it might be worth contacting a fumigation specialist for treatment with methyl bromide in a sealed vessel or container. This is an expensive process but can eradicate all borer in 24 hours. However, there is no ongoing protection of the furniture and re-infestation would be possible if the furniture is kept where borer beetles can access it.
This combination of treatment will protect your home and your investments for many years.
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