How to Get Rid of Insects Eating Wood Furniture
Outside of termites, some homeowners may be surprised to learn that many different types of insects can damage furniture, walls and other wooden parts of your home. Not only are these insects an eyesore, but the damage they inflict could be far-reaching and expensive to repair. Luckily, by designing a well-informed control strategy, you can remove wood-eating insects in your home before your furniture can suffer extensive damage.
Identify the species of insect that is eating your wood furniture. With the exception of termites, several species of beetles are the most likely culprits. Adult lyctid powder-post beetles, brown and 1/10 to 2/10 inch long, lay their larvae, C-shaped grub worms, in furniture. Deathwatch beetles, red to brown, and false powder-post beetles, brown or black, and 1/4 inch in size, also lay their larvae into woody furniture. Since the larvae of these insects spend most of their time inside furniture wood, it is typically easier to identify the species by examining the adult insects near the furniture.
Control the insects naturally. As it is usually the case with insect pest control, preventative steps are the most effective. Clear any felled trees or tree branches away from the home and inspect any firewood you bring into the home for the presence of insects. Some furniture items -- if small enough -- can be heated at temperatures from 120 to 140 F for six hours, in an oven, to kill off the insects, but watch the furniture closely to make sure that it does not catch fire (never use this technique on furniture containing fabrics, pelts or paints). Alternatively, you can deep freeze the furniture at zero degrees Fahrenheit for 72 hours -- or longer for furniture thicker than 2 inches -- to kill off the insects.
Remove the furniture if natural control methods do not successfully eliminate the insects. Having exhausted the natural control methods described above, control methods are very limited. Control of furniture-feeding insects at this point should be centered on preventing the insects from moving to other pieces of wood furniture in the home. Removing and destroying or burning the infested furniture is the most effective way of achieving this. If the furniture cannot be destroyed, a professional exterminator can apply a sodium borate insecticide to the furniture to remove the insects.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Wood-destroying Insects; P.G. Koehler & J.L. Castner
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Project Pesticide Education Program; Wood-Boring Beetles in Homes
- University of Wisconsin Extension; Identifying and Controlling Wood-Destroying Insects; PJ Pellitteri & W.L. Gojmerac