Can Woodworm Survive Outside? You might be surprised

We often think of woodworm as being a species that lives indoors. This is because we find it in our floorboards, skirting boards and even our furniture. But they are also quite able to live and thrive outdoors.

Whether indoors, or outdoors near your home, woodworm should be a concern. They can cause a lot of damage to a wide range of timbers. Once inside your home, they even have the potential to cause structural damage.

It is very possible for woodworm to survive outside. It is common to find the furniture beetle, the death watch beetle, and other types of woodworm outside the home.

They are often found in dead trees, cut timber that is stored outdoors, and hardwood trees with fungal decay.

The furniture beetle, which is the most common species in the UK, generally prefers wood that does not have fungal decay. But they are very happy in wood that is dry and has good drainage.

can woodworm survive outside

Which Woodworm Species Can Live Outside?

Many people believe that woodworm will only infest wood indoors. This is because most people will only ever see them inside when an infestation is found.

Unless you’re an expert, you’re not likely to spot them outdoors, but there are some species that can do quite well outside.

The furniture beetle, death watch beetle and lyctus beetle are all very common outside. In fact, they are all more common outdoors than indoors. The most common type of beetle seen outdoors is the death watch beetle.

Where Can Woodworm Be Found Outside?

We often think that wood in our homes, is the only wood that woodworm infest. This includes things like, skirting boards, floorboards, or joists. However, the truth is, woodworm have a lot of options outdoors.

The death watch beetle is probably the most common seen outdoors. They can be found in a variety of hardwood trees, including elm, ash, oak, and willow. The trees they are found in are often dead, due to disease, old age, or even lightning strikes. They will also make home inside dead branches or branches that have been cut off.

The death watch beetle is also fond of Old Pollard Willows, as these contain an excellent source of food. Along with this, they are also found in trees that have fungal decay.

In contrast, we often see the furniture beetle in trees that avoid decay. They tend to like trees that have shelter and good drainage. You can also find them in branch scars where they often thrive.

The lyctus beetle lives in hardwood trees, with a certain sapwood, such as oak. These trees might be recently felled or uprooted by bad weather. The lyctus will only live in the wood for a few years, enjoying the high starch content in the sapwood.

For this species, the wood they attack must be perfect with no decay.

It’s also common to find woodworm in cut timber outdoors. This could be timber in a timber yard, destined for garden projects, and wood that will be installed inside homes. This leads to the question; what are common ways that woodworm enter the home?

How Do Woodworm Enter the Home?

The most common way for woodworm to enter the home is flying. Two good examples of this, are the furniture beetle, and lyctus beetle, which are both strong flyers.

The adult beetle of these species has wings hidden under their wing cases. This means that they can fly with ease.

While flying inside the home, the furniture beetle looks very similar to the house fly. As a result, most people simply ignore it, completely unaware that it will soon be eating their woodwork. This gives furniture beetles the perfect chance to find a new home in your timber.

Woodworm emerge and fly from timber between April and September. During this period, it can be quite easy for them to enter the home, as these are the spring and summer months. This means, it is very common for our doors and windows to be left open.

But windows and doors are not the only way they enter the home. There are other ways they can get in.

As we mentioned previously, woodworm can also enter the home in timber that suffers from an infestation. This might include:

  • Floorboards
  • Skirting boards
  • Joists
  • Furniture
  • And any other kinds of timber brought into the home.

Once the timber is installed, the woodworm can then thrive and spread. This can take place unknown to the homeowner for many years, until the damage is found.

They can even attach to our clothing and be brought indoors. If this clothing is placed inside a wardrobe or drawers, the beetle can easily make its way off the clothing, in search of wood.


We might think that woodworm only live indoors, but that’s simply not true. In fact, they are found outdoors more than indoors.

They are extremely resilient and can live in a wide variety of timber.

What’s more, they can also make their way indoors through several methods. Therefore we often find woodworm infestations inside our homes.