Xilophages saprophyte insects

Beetles
Insects which fly and lay their eggs in the pores and cracks in wood. The larva causes the most serious damage, by burrowing internal galleries in the installed material. They are present throughout Europe, but attacks vary greatly depending on the geographic area. The most important are Hylotrupes bajulus, Anobium punctatum and Lyctus brunneus. There are many other insects of less importance, which destroy the wood; among which, for example, are Hesperophanes and Xestobium rufovillosum.

  • Hylotrupes bajulus (House Longhorn): is undoubtedly one of the worst enemies of installed wood, in particular conifers, and the damage caused by the larva is very serious. It is present up to an altitude of about 2,000-m, not so widespread in the North and Northwest of Europe. The vitality of this insect depends on the temperature and humidity of the air. The incubation period for the eggs may be 5 to 9 days at a temperature of 31.5°C and a humidity level of 90 to 95% or 48 days at a temperature of 16.6°C and environmental humidity at 18% (the latter condition being very unfavourable). The larvae burrow galleries in particular in the alburnum which become full of gnawed waste causing serious structural damage to the wood which can lose all its structure and solidity.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Anobium punctatum (Furniture woodworm): is particularly widespread in maritime climates and wherever there is high humidity. It attacks in particular timber or installed wood of conifers or hardwood indifferently, affecting the alburnum and the duramen. The larvae burrow galleries with coarse gnawed waste mixed with excrement. Even if heavily attacked the wood does not completely lose its resistance and the structure remains recognisable.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Xestobium rufovillosum (Death-watch beetle): attacks preferably timber or already installed wood, of various hardwoods (Oak, Elm, Walnut, Ontano, Poplar) but which is fairly humid, or old lopped decaying willow trees. The damage caused by Xestobium is the same as the damage caused by Anobium. Its importance is felt in particular in the structures in old buildings throughout most of Europe.
  • Lyctus brunneus (Lyctus): in the past it was given little importance, but the damage it causes in installed casings and furniture is at present considered very serious. The larvae which breeds at its best in very humid wood, attacks all indigenous Hardwood with soft wood and with large vessels, plus the alburnum of the hard species, in particular Oak. The only species that seems to be immune are Popular, Beech and Birch, whereas the Eucalyptus trees are very vulnerable. If the infestation is particularly strong, the whole mass of wood is transformed into a solid compressed gnawed waste where the structure of the texture is no longer recognisable. The Lyctus brunneus is the most common in Italy.

 

 

 

 

 

Termites
Social insects divided up into various families. The most dangerous species for buildings are those which live underground, mainly Reticulitermes lucifugus and Reticulitermes santonensis.
In Europe termites can be found only in certain limited geographical areas; they are present in Italy throughout the whole peninsula and on the islands. In these areas, the use of wood preservants in the fight against termites is integrated by the use of other protective means, for example for floors, for foundation work and walls. The danger of the attacks stems from the fact that, as their activity is hidden from the light, a superficial inspection will not reveal their presence. They always respect the external surface of the pieces of wood so that the alarm (always to late) is given by some beam or frame collapsing. The infection is by this time widespread.

  • Hesperophanes sp.p.: a species common to Central and South Europe. The wood that suffers most is: Cerro, Robinia, Beech, Popular, Walnut and Chestnut. The females usually lay their eggs in the nooks and cracks of installed wood such as framework for roofs, furniture, wooden floors and all types of frames. The damage caused by the larvae can be very serious because it involves the structure and mechanical resistance of the part without any possibility of repairing. It is also very difficult to diagnose.