Woodlice are one of the few land crustaceans. They have oval, grey, segmented bodies 10-15mm long, with 14 legs and prominent antennae. Common names include ‘slaters’, ‘sow-bugs’ and ‘pill-bugs’.
There are three species that enter houses from the garden – one of which, the pill woodlouse, rolls up into a tight ball when disturbed. Woodlice are harmless feeders upon rotten wood or other vegetable matter in cool damp areas.
They normally live underneath stones, clumps of plants, logs, or doormats, from which they may crawl into dark corners of a house. Rockeries with aubrietia are great favourites with them.
A term used for the destructive larvae of the Common Furniture Beetle.
First sign of woodworm is the appearance of neat round holes, 2mm across, in wooden surfaces, often accompanied by tiny piles of wood dust beneath them. Fresh holes show clean white wood inside. The holes are made by emerging adult beetles, immature grubs may still be tunnelling away inside the wood.
The adult Furniture Beetle is a small brown insect 3mm to 6mm long which flies quite readily. It lays eggs on rough, unpolished wood and the grubs bore straight into the wood – leaving no trace until they emerge as beetles three years or so later, usually between May and September.
Woodworm is frequently introduced into the house in second-hand furniture, tea chests or wicker-work; but the beetles are quite capable of flying in through a window from nearby dead branches of trees. They may then attack floorboards, joinery and, more seriously, structural timbers such as rafters and joists.
Other woodborers include: Death Watch Beetle, which infests only large old hardwood beams; the House Longhorn, confined – at least for the moment – to North West Surrey; Powder Post Beetle which needs a diet of starch in certain hardwoods, and woodboring weevils, which are associated with wet rot and die out when it is treated.
The small hairy grubs of the carpet beetles and fur beetles.
Parasitic worms are a veterinary or medical problem but they are included here because some may be transmitted by rats, mice or certain insects.
Threadworms are fairly common in dogs, cats and children. They are thin whitish wrigglers about 5mm long, normally only detected after they have passed out of the gut. They may cause intense anal itching at night in young children. The trouble normally starts when threadworms’ eggs are swallowed with unwashed, contaminated fruit or raw vegetables or from food handled by unwashed hands.