Episode 124- Pest Control Chez Nous

dragonfliesInspired by some new FFRs (Fellow French Renovators) I decided that a post about bugs and their management was long overdue.

Hanging light voiles and lace at the windows to keep the big summer bugs out (yes WBFM, there IS a reason why I buy this stuff!) is ESSENTIAL unless you enjoy fighting off winged things whilst you eat, sleep or just try to read quietly

Long term followers will have read about our historical and sometimes hysterical attempts to beat the little blighters. See:- https://coteetcampagne.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/the-big-wormy-beam/

Let me just raise a Very Important Fact right here, French houses have a very high proportion of wood in their construction. In some it is the main material. You need to look at this issue at the earliest possible stage of your project.

Damp & rot also need addressing STRAIGHT AWAY; Forget the decorative flourishes, the gorgeous furniture or the tempting paint charts for now. Of course I could not resist “considering” any of those.

After  some battles with our 18thc cottage in the UK , in which tenants allowed rot organisms to flourish, this was an early preoccupation when we bought the French house (also tenanted on occasion before our time). After years of benign and active neglect, a bargain property will have some infestation to contend with. It makes sense to deal with this whilst the place is being stripped back for major workbedroom beam French house

We decided that it would be sensible  to strip everything back and let the place breathe to start with. This shows up any serious damp (as opposed to condensation) issues.

Damp/rot-We were fortunate- apart from the obvious (missing/slipped roof tiles) doors not shutting properly, effluorescence under stairs (cured by opening up a doorway in a dank corner) our issues were obvious and easy to fix, if not cheap.

Wood boring beetles- Woodworm was rife in the garage (see thebigwormybeam link above) but at least we didn’t have termites ( blessedly a standard French house purchase check in the South !) Mostly inactive now, apart from a popular plank on the salon floor (?!), the ancient joists had been augmented and supported in the early 20thC and the beam that holds the house up is still rock solid within, though it looks alarming-Below

Big wormy (and burnt) beam

Big wormy (and burnt) beam

Fortunately, when we exposed what we think is a chestnut beam on the top floor, it was absolutely sound. Spiders don’t like it either (they just lay their eggs elsewhere when we aren’t there!) We treated by soaking every bit of exposed wood in the house with Xylophene


Effective against the “larves xylophages -Lyctus, Vrillettes, Capricornes”, they sound so cute in French.

Every new bit of wood we expose or add in, including wooden furniture, trims etc is also treated to future proof us.

I have recently read an expat article stating with confidence, that exposing  beetle infested  wood to light and air will fix any problem. I’m sorry, it won’t, modern chemicals are required and they are not, by their nature “safe”, so wear masks and gloves.

The “old ” remedies included painting furniture and floors to deter these little critters was, for many centuries, the ONLY defense (hence painted furniture and floors!) but it was all that was available back then. Get real and buy something that works.


About coteetcampagne

Artist, period home maker, renovator, restorer, Francophile. My mission is to save the old stuff, one beautiful piece at a time
This entry was posted in Renovation and restoration diary- France, What we did, how we did it and what we used and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Episode 124- Pest Control Chez Nous

  1. That is some project. And the fact you guys have learnt so much along the way is testament to how invested you are in the projects. It must be very fulfilling to take the project from start to finish, covering all the angles and hidden stuff and then sitting back safe in the knowledge that your new found knowledge has meant a job well done.
    P.S, thank you for the shout out there. A bit of a “name and shame” so touche!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. poshbirdy says:

    First 10 litres of woodworm treatment ready to apply. Have to stop the little blighters from eating my doors and staircases, at least!. The helicopter bugs sound fascinating though…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bizzyella says:

    Screens. Window screens. I want them like I wanted garbage disposers. Now that said disposers are in place — more or less, as my contractors are not exactly clear on the concept — I am saving up for window screens. I have had it with bugs. And yes, the chemicals to treat the wood are essential. Sad but true.


    • Window screens popular option, but try as I might, I just can’t put them on this house. Crazy I know, but the voiles do work

      Regarding supposed “natural” or “green ” options for killing bugs- forget it, foolish romantic idea utterly divorced from reality
      When faced with giant helicopter bugs, give me something that works……………

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This all sounds a bit scary to a non bug person.


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