A national trade body has raised fears of the possible spread of a “voracious” wood-destroying beetle apparently centred around Surrey.

The Property Care Association (PCA) has opened a register to track any reported sightings of the House Longhorn Beetle.

The insect can cause severe structural damage to properties.

Experts from the association are keeping a watching brief and have urged their members across the UK to report any sightings of the insect.

The move comes as the trade body fears changing weather patterns could provide a more fertile environment for the beetle to spread across the UK.

The PCA has called the impact the House Longhorn Beetle can have on property “devastating,” as it attacks the sapwood in softwood timber. Steve Hodgson, chief executive of the PCA, which represents UK specialists in the remedial preservation sector, said: “We are picking up the reins of a study last completed ten years ago.”

He said: “Over the years there have been reports of the Longhorn House Beetle centred around the Surrey area, and now there is concern that our changing climate could enable the beetle to spread.”

He continued: “It’s a voracious pest and, left untreated, can even cause roofs to collapse. “We need to know where it is in the UK, and plot any sightings.”

Mr Hodgson added: “The information will be collected and a report published annually in an attempt to map the spread and distribution of this highly destructive insect in the face of our changing climate.”

The PCA incorporates the British Wood Preserving and Damp-proofing Association (BWPDA), which has been in formation for 80 years.

It represents the UK’s structural repair sector, as well as the structural waterproofing, wood preservation, damp-proofing, flood remediation and invasive weed control industries. More details on insect infestation can be found at the website: www.property-care.org/Homeowners.Timber_Treatment.Insects.asp