Avoid Boring Pests in Antique Furniture
Your formal dining room may look amazing with those antique Chippendale chairs, and your kitchen may look vintage with that authentic Shaker Hoosier cabinet, but watch for signs of pest infestations when you bring antiques or any used wood furniture into your home. Several insect pests can bore into wood furniture and cause damage, requiring some type of pest control intervention.
Powderpost beetles are a group of wood-boring insects with larvae that eat wood from deciduous trees. They are named for the fact that they destroy wood and turn it into a fine powder. The larvae of powderpost beetles can live for many months in wood, typically a year, and their presence is often invisible until the adult beetles exit the wood through tiny pin-sized holes. The adults are small, usually less than 1/4 in. long. You may not see the adults, but their exit holes may be visible along with fine wood dust and small insect droppings (frass) near the holes. Powderpost beetles are frequently found in lumber, posts, house joists, and rafters, as well as antiques.
Common Furniture Beetles
Common furniture beetles are a bit smaller than powderpost beetles, but they have similar habits. This beetle has a longer life cycle than the powderpost beetle, and its larvae feed within wood for three to four years before the adult beetles leave through small exit holes.
Old House Borers
Old house borers may also wreak havoc on your old house or old furniture, like other wood-boring insects. The larvae of these insects feed on wood for up to ten years, a particularly long life cycle, before maturing into adults and exiting through bored holes. Despite its name, the old house borer is known to prefer newer wood, which has higher amounts of resin. Old house borers are also called longhorn beetles.
Woodworm is not a distinct pest species. If someone tells you that you have a woodworm infestation, they are likely referring to the larvae of any of the wood-boring beetle species, including powderpost beetles, common furniture beetles, old house borers, and many other wood-boring insects. The larvae of these species look like small white worms, which may have black heads, and they are called woodworms because they inhabit wood. They are not technically worms, however.
Termites are a well-known wood-destroying insect. They are more commonly found infesting houses and other structures, but they have also been found in household furniture. They are relatives of cockroaches, and they look like large white ants, approximately 1/4 in. to 1/2 in. long. Like ants, some termites have wings. Termites tend to stay out of sight within their colonies, but a telltale sign of termites are mounds of small pellets or droppings near an infested area.
There are many other furniture-damaging pests. If you see signs of furniture damage that may be due to an infestation, contact pest control professionals who can determine if you have an infestation and what to do about it. Insecticides, fumigation, wood replacement, moisture control measures, or other special treatments may be necessary to eliminate pests in your home.
Avoiding pest infestations
You can avoid pest infestations in your home by inspecting the antique furniture you bring into your house for signs of pests and pest damage. Avoid storing furniture in barns or sheds where there is less protection from pests. In addition, check your home periodically for openings that may let insects and other pests in, such as foundation cracks, air vents, pipe openings, and areas near kitchen and bathroom sinks. It is also a good idea to practice good housekeeping: keep foods crumbs off your floors and furniture and keep lids on your kitchen trashcans. Regular pest control inspections and treatments can also keep your mind at ease and keep the pests at bay.