Woodworm - or not! - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 12-29-2018, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Woodworm - or not!

Hi, I hope you can help me. I occasionally make for friends and for sale, decorative wooden ducks, from native British hardwoods, finished with oil and wax to show off the grain. I recently discovered in my garage a stash of some dozen carved ducks, as yet unfinished. One or two have several flight holes. Can I freeze these to kill any "residents"? If so, for how long should I do it? The others show no flight holes, but how do I know that they do not contain any hidden "residents"? I understand that new eggs are often laid in old flight holes, but presumably they have to start somewhere if there are no flight holes available to lay in. My question is, I guess, if a piece of timber shows no signs of exit, can I assume that there are no worms inside it. I would hate to inadvertently introduce the little horrors into someone's house!
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post #2 of 16 Old 12-30-2018, 01:25 AM
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I don't know what you mean by flight holes. If you think the wood has insects in it you need heat to get rid of them. You would need to heat the wood through to the center to about 140 degrees for a half hour to kill insects. A lot of insects you could freeze in a solid block of ice for days and when it thaws are still alive.
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post #3 of 16 Old 12-30-2018, 01:41 AM
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I'd toss them in the oven. 140F shouldn't hurt them, I don't think. I don't know how long to leave them.
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post #4 of 16 Old 12-30-2018, 03:44 AM
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I agree with the other 2, pop em in the oven. A surprising amount of organisms have evolved to be resistant to the cold, very few can take the heat. Freezing would likely leave some of the crawlies alive, barring cryogenic temps like liquid nitrogen being used. Heating to 140f is all but guaranteed to kill them though. Make sure to let the pieces bake long enough to get the internal temp up to 140f though, takes longer than youd think. To be safe, id leave the affected pieces in the oven overnight just to be sure that everything gets toasty. Wont kill your electric bill, being at that low a temperature

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post #5 of 16 Old 12-30-2018, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you to all for your useful advice - it looks like freezing is not a sensible option. Steve, I give a quote from a pest control website for your interest :- "These beetles lay their eggs on the surface or in cracks of timbers and it is their larvae which feeds on the wood. They sometimes tunnel for years before they emerge through the characteristic flight holes to start the cycle again." So what concerns me is that whilst the flight holes show the emergence from the timber of new adult insects, it does not appear possible to tell whether eggs have been laid on the surface of ANY piece of timber which has no flight holes present. If eggs have indeed been laid on this timber they may well have produced larvae which are already now inside the wood, showing no evidence of their presence.
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post #6 of 16 Old 12-30-2018, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jollygreengiant View Post
Hi, I hope you can help me. I occasionally make for friends and for sale, decorative wooden ducks, from native British hardwoods, finished with oil and wax to show off the grain. I recently discovered in my garage a stash of some dozen carved ducks, as yet unfinished. One or two have several flight holes. Can I freeze these to kill any "residents"? If so, for how long should I do it? The others show no flight holes, but how do I know that they do not contain any hidden "residents"? I understand that new eggs are often laid in old flight holes, but presumably they have to start somewhere if there are no flight holes available to lay in. My question is, I guess, if a piece of timber shows no signs of exit, can I assume that there are no worms inside it. I would hate to inadvertently introduce the little horrors into someone's house!
Hello JGG,

First, I don't think you have much to worry about at all...Nothing really to do or be concerned with for your application...

More information if you want it below:

Validation, among my eclectic career background, I was a state supervisor in wildlife and pest control for the state of Connecticut. As such I have a pretty solid background regarding the "crawly things" we share this big rock in space with...

I gather from you post you are some where across the pond in the U.K.? I have some wonderful friends and colleagues there that work in the restoration field regarding this subject should it really begin to bother you and you need/want someone closer to home to consult with, just drop me an email...

So, more detail, of the many varieties of Coleoptera that can (and do) naturally have part of there life cycle in wood most do not do any major structural damage of great concern, only cosmetic, and of that, some like the effect of "wormy wood" as its called in the trade.

As shared, "freezing" is a natural event in the world these little folks live in...so you would never get it cold enough, for long enough, to ever slow these wee-beasties down. Chemicals natural or (modern deadly!! and not recommended at all!!!) or heat are the only real two primary effective methods of control for this entire Order of insect...for the most part.

Nevertheless, what I recommend most often (80% of instances?) is...do nothing and worry little about it. If you are at a stage that "flight holes," a common term outside the U.S...and called emergent holes in the Sciences...are only indicative of the adult beetle exiting the host wood. If the wood is in a proper environment for human use and/or treated with a good traditional finish (or modern if your into such things...yuck!!...LOL!!!) then there really isn't much more to do for most species we encounter...

I can expand more if you wish or need...

Good luck and love to see some of your work...!!!...My Mom carved decoys, lures and the like...for fun and profit. Its a great old craft!!!

j
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post #7 of 16 Old 12-31-2018, 12:47 PM
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This past summer, I discovered sawdust between some butternut boards. When I purchased the lumber, I was warned by the harvester that the butternut trees in NH were being infested...


Not having access to a kiln, I wrapped my planks in plastic shrink wrap and stood them against the building in the sun all day long for the month of August. The sun drew the moister out of the wood and along came the beetles who were exposed at the end of the day. I wold crush them every night as the sun was setting and after a few says, I didn't see any more although I continued the exposer for the whole month.

Its' never hot or cold in New Hampshire... its' always seasonal.
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post #8 of 16 Old 12-31-2018, 09:49 PM
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Good Idea...but for perhaps a different reason?

Quote:
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This past summer, I discovered sawdust between some butternut boards. When I purchased the lumber, I was warned by the harvester that the butternut trees in NH were being infested...


Not having access to a kiln, I wrapped my planks in plastic shrink wrap and stood them against the building in the sun all day long for the month of August. The sun drew the moister out of the wood and along came the beetles who were exposed at the end of the day. I wold crush them every night as the sun was setting and after a few says, I didn't see any more although I continued the exposer for the whole month.
Hey Bernie,

I liked what you did...direct and simple!

I would note that by wrapping them in plastic, and putting them in the sun you proably only helped them with incubation as it would never get hot enough to really do much to them usually even in direct sun...unless out of state and in a location like out West and or at higher (hotter) altitudes...

However, by accelerating the incubation rate (??) and having the plastic wrap, you achieved to very key objectives:

1. You got the chance to effectively eliminate the emergent new beetles...AND!!!

2. You stopped new females from getting access to the wood again.

About the only augmentation I would offer to improve the process is to lightly scorch/char the wood with a torch (this is easy to remove and doesn't case harden the wood at all if not overdone) and/or spray the wood down with some flax oil mixed with salt and borax...and this can be remove from the rough lumber later when ready to work. Both methods can be combined and they also help slow moisture loss and/or uptake within the MC.
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post #9 of 16 Old 01-01-2019, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again gentlemen for your responses.
Berniel, sounds like an interesting exercise that worked well for you. It might be worth a try here, but I'm not sure that the heat in the UK, even in mid-summer, would be likely to generate the same sort of results.
Jay, I appreciate your time in responding to my questions. I finish the ducks simply with Danish oil and woodwax - is this what you would call "a good traditional finish" and is it likely to deter further attack? Something that still disturbs me (and maybe it shouldn't) is that presumably the holes that we see on the wood's surface are emergent holes. Can we also see entry holes, or are they and the eggs too small for the naked eye? If the answer to that is yes, then any piece of timber could be harbouring these beetles without us knowing it. I am slightly worrying myself here, since, as I said in a previous post, I don't want to introduce this problem into people's homes, but I imagine that this might affect all woodworkers!
I haven't yet photographed any of my pieces, but will try to do so and post them on here.
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post #10 of 16 Old 01-01-2019, 07:37 PM
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...Thanks again gentlemen for your responses. Jay, I appreciate your time in responding to my questions...
You are most welcome...

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... I finish the ducks simply with Danish oil and woodwax - is this what you would call "a good traditional finish" and is it likely to deter further attack? ...
I would say yes...most likely!

though some of the modern "danish oils" have been poorly formulated and adulterated with petroleum products and other contemporary drying agents.

For me, any finish that is blended in the same means, methods and materials as we would have had 300 years or older is typically (in the historic restoration field) considered a "traditional finish" which is as generic a term as I could use.

I typically use a blend of tung, flax, citrus oils blended with beeswax and pine rosin. I have used this formula from timber frame to furniture and all manner of wood (and some metals) for over 40 years. Its an excellent material and has seen some decoy applications as well...

To your other part of the question...also yes, these are usually more than enough to deter further infestation of wood for most species. The females only seek wood that is "bare" and not covered with a finish.

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...Something that still disturbs me (and maybe it shouldn't) is that presumably the holes that we see on the wood's surface are emergent holes. Can we also see entry holes, or are they and the eggs too small for the naked eye?...
As described before...wormy wood...is a preference in aesthetic that not all enjoy. Frankly I like it, but I have noted with clients and colleagues alike, you either love it hate it when it comes to "worm wood" effect...

And yes...for all practical consideration the species Coleoptera most wood workers could/would encounter they are only going to see the emergent holes. The little eggs and ingress points aren't visible to the naked eye for most (not all) species of Beetle.

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...If the answer to that is yes, then any piece of timber could be harboring these beetles without us knowing it. ...
That would be a very true statement, and actually one of the "marketing gimmicks" that many pest control companies use to scare clients into expensive contract and treatments...Most often the beetle just leaves and/or dies, and there isn't much that can be done...Some wood gets beetles in it! This is partly do to harvest time, tree species, population issues within a beetle species, poor wood handling after the harvest, leaving bark on too long, and a plethora of other challenges...

I would not give too much concern or worry about "infesting" someones home. Transporting a invasive species into another country if your products travel globally is a bit of a concern to address, but overall I would focus on proper wood storage for your rough stock...

Let me know if I can expand on anything?

j
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post #11 of 16 Old 01-04-2019, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Many thanks again, Jay, for your considered reply.
I think I will just have to get on with one or two things and see what arises (or even emerges!). I have discovered a local firewood seller, who uses a kiln - I may talk to him about the temperature he uses, and, if appropriate, ask him if he will put my obviously wormy ducks into his kiln for a couple of days, in an attempt to kill any residents. As to the remainder of my unfinished stock, I shall just have to finish them as soon as possible - in the meantime, do you think that storing them in sealable plastic bags would be a good thing?
Thanks again for your help
jgg
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post #12 of 16 Old 01-04-2019, 01:11 PM
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We use repeated cycles of freezing and thawing to kill wood boring insects.
Under natural conditions, summer swings into fall and it slowly gets colder and colder into winter.
Many species of wood insect can cope with that. No big deal.
BUT
Start with wood at 70F (21C) and put that in your freezer at -20 for 48 hours.
Insects cannot adjust their biochemistry fast enough to cope with that sudden temp drop.
Take the wood out, let it warm up for 48 hours. No need for excess heat.
Freeze it again for the same time and reason.
Repeated quick freezing cycles will do the trick.
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post #13 of 16 Old 01-04-2019, 07:24 PM
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Cited Research...???

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We use repeated cycles of freezing and thawing to kill wood boring insects.
Under natural conditions, summer swings into fall and it slowly gets colder and colder into winter.
Many species of wood insect can cope with that. No big deal.
BUT
Start with wood at 70F (21C) and put that in your freezer at -20 for 48 hours.
Insects cannot adjust their biochemistry fast enough to cope with that sudden temp drop.
Take the wood out, let it warm up for 48 hours. No need for excess heat.
Freeze it again for the same time and reason.
Repeated quick freezing cycles will do the trick.
Hi Brian,

Admittedly, I am not working day to day in the Pest Control or Entomological sciences anymore...

So I will state, I could well be "out of the loop" for any new research on eradication methodologies being reflected in current research with related species and the effects of "freeze-thaw cycling" for there extirpation from wood materials?

However, I did try to keep up and know of irradiation, microwave and pressure treatments, all outside the scope of lay folk or those working from normal wood shops. I do also know, from my own empirical testing with most common wood inhabiting species, that this described modality has had (at best) very limited effect for the efforts taken. These insects are more than capable of wide and extreme temperature variation for all that I have read, and seen in samples. Some can actually be frozen in solid blocks of ice for long periods of time (both pupa and live larva) and still remain viable and able to develop, even with cyclic pressures applied.

Can you relate any current research showing the actual effects, what species and sampling methods used to determining viability and survival numbers in the give wood sample? I know your background, and coming from you, I would be very keen to understand what is happening and try the methods once again!!

Thanks,

j
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post #14 of 16 Old 01-04-2019, 11:45 PM
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Many insect species can be stimulated by cooling weather to produce the equivalent of ethylene glycol (anti-freeze).
I expect there are considerable observations available through FORINTEK, an industry-sponsored industrial research organization.
The Formicidae, the ants, in the cool temperate zone are really good at this.

The second thing that the bugs can do (and most temperate zone perennial plants) is to "harden off."
In this, they shed excess free water. That prevents the inopportune development of ice crystals which fatally puncture
subcellular organelles. Also the crystals leave cytoplasmic solutes at fatally high concentrations.

My grapes, Vitis riparia, can harden off. Most V. vinifera cannot. I can't grow those.

So.
We freeze the infested wood, rapidly. The insects are fatally unprepared for the rapid temperature drop.
Do it again and again.
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post #15 of 16 Old 01-05-2019, 01:35 AM
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...So...We freeze the infested wood, rapidly. The insects are fatally unprepared for the rapid temperature drop....Do it again and again.

Hi Brian,

Thanks so much for that response...

I was much aware of those physiological effects and responses within anthropoids, thank you.

It was refreshing to read words again that don't cross my desk much anymore...Like "harden off" and . I love your post for that reason...!!!...and the fact I have to go back and actually "dust off" text on things like, "cytoplasmic solutes!" Not to many events in my day to day life gets me academically stimulated like your posts...Thanks for that...!!!

Because of your earlier response (and your background being what it is!) I thought it prudent on my part (in the interim of this post) to try and find a citation within current academic research (Google Scholar is really great for this) of my own.

I tried something simple first as: "freezing bug to death" and thought I would at least find some good "pest control" information...Not so much...to my surprise!!!

This only resulted in the fact that Cimex (Bed bugs) could...with great effort...and multi day events of cycling at -15C could have some deleterious effects and that to be at all truly effective in samples of upholstery and clothing...a duration of 4 days minimum!!! at those temperatures was required...

I don't believe I can" consider that effective or easy to do?!!?...and...that is for what most would call a "soft bodied" insect...

My next search attempt: "diapause extirpation of coleoptera " and "diapause extirpation of coleoptera with thermal cycling "

This only lead to it not being effective and/or how they can resist extremes in temperature cycling...So again, up to this point, it rather supports what I have contended all along even within the current scientific literature...So I made a phone call, and got similar feed back of..."not effective" and/or "impractical."

I tried several more search attempt with: "cryotherapy for extirpation of coleoptera" Same results.

And then!!! "freeze and thaw extirpation for Coleoptera" within the "Google Scholar" yield some viable result to support your position...!!!...However the outcome thus far in reading the literature...Not practical...and then I found further that there was a "key list of NOT TO FREEZE items found in several museum papers and museum group advisories. This was an extensive list, but those germane to this discussion:

Paintings on wood panel.
Joined wooden panels.
Objects with desiccate, failing glues or adhesives.

Like I stated above, the list went on...and there was a notation of wood and/or items that can be effected by thermal cycling...like wood.

The most condensed info I could find on one page, that speaks to you control method is as follows for the "Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin:"

How freezing kills insects
The article "The Freezing Process—Effects on Insects and Artifact Materials" in Leather Conservation News, 3(1) Fall 1986, pp. 1–13, written by Mary-Lou E. Florian, is an excellent reference on the treatment of insect-infested materials. Several insect collection pests are profiled in this article. The precise cause of death by freezing is not known. Possible factors include dehydration, osmotic swelling, loss of bound water, changed enzyme reaction rates, ice crystal formation, and the rupture of cell walls. Insects can survive freezing if they are not frozen quickly enough, not frozen at cold enough temperatures, or not thawed slowly enough. Repeated cycles of freezing and thawing can kill even those insects that are resistant to freezing.

The article "A Review of Published Temperatures for the Control of Pest Insects in Museums" in Collection Forum, 8(2), 1992, pp. 41–67, by Tom Strang, gives extremes of hot and cold temperatures that prove lethal for specific types of insects. Even the hardiest insects can be killed by a single exposure to temperatures between 45 to 65 degrees centigrade (113–149 degrees Fahrenheit) over a six-day period or -10 to -40 degrees centigrade (14 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit) over a 25-day period.

A good rule of thumb for most insects is to freeze to the center of the object within four hours at a temperature of -20 degrees centigrade (about -4 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 72 hours, then to thaw the materials over a 24-hour period.



At this point for me...(jury is still out and I'm going to read more...) is the following:

Thermal cycling within the know and proven modalities is both arduous and often not practical outside laboratory/museum settings. There are proven and harmful effects to some wood joinery items and currently not worth the risk accept under extreme conditions and/or specific cases.

The procedural elements are outline above for other to determine for themselves...

Thanks again Brian for always being stimulating. If I find more, I will post!!!
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post #16 of 16 Old 01-05-2019, 03:21 AM
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Don't give the insects a chance to prepare.
It's the SPEED of the freezer treatment that they can't cope with.
Quick freeze for 48 hrs. Thaw for the same. Repeat 3 or 4 times.

If the freezing approach is slow and gentle, the insects can and will make biochemical preparations for winter.
We had a decade of mild winters and never saw extreme cold (-40C) which is a bug-killer in itself.
We got an epidemic of Mountain Pine Beetle infestation (Dendroctonus ponderosae) which looked like a big rain storm
on Doppler shift radar. That left BC with 18,000,000 hectares of standing dead and cracked junk dead pine.

I always have some freezer space, lovingly reserved for buggy carving woods.
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