The djembe

Bugs in your Djembe

wood-lice-drum-1 (11K)

wood-lice-drum-2 (15K)

These little suckers average only a few millimetres in length and can turn a perfectly good drum into cardboard in less than no time. As they chew away, the wood becomes weaker and the less resonant. The presence of sawdust or tiny holes in the wood are tell tale signs of a problem.

What to do

Be advised that as some of these solutions use chemicals, you are at risk of the wood soaking up the chemicals, leaving you with a drum that smells and may be dangerous. Take care, use masks and gloves where necessary.

1. If you catch the infestation early on, you may be able to save your drum by taking the skin and binding off and putting it in the freezer for 48 hours. Try to get the temperature down to about -20 C. If your drum is big or you have more than one, you might need a big freezer! Know anyone who owns a restaurant? You must take the skin off though. Don't freeze the skin.

2. Then put the drum in a large refuse bag and empty a can of bug spray/fogger into the bag before sealing it up for at least 24 hours. Try to use a black bag and put the drum in the sun. The heat will hopefully help to kill the bugs as well as the spray. If the skin is badly damaged it may have to be replaced.

If you still can't get rid of them, then you'll need to bring out the big guns.

3. See if you can find one of the little critters and take a picture of it. Send it to a pest control service and ask them to identify it, then buy a remedy, if not from them you might have luck with a timber merchant. One particular brand in the UK used against wood lice is Agrodust available at

4. Finally, you can take the skin off and try scrubbing the wood with turpentine. Use this as a last resort, as your drum might smell for a while afterwards. It would be best to then replace the skin and rope.

5. If you think you've got the last of them, just make sure to check the drum often afterwards, in case any of the larvae hatch and the problem starts again. Once all that is done, you can plug up the holes with a mixture of clean sawdust (not the stuff your drum's been shedding) and wood glue. Then apply some palm oil to repel further invasions.

Unfortunately, if you catch the infestation too late, damage may be too severe and your drum may be ruined.

Good luck!