How to get rid of furniture beetles.

How to Get Rid of Furniture Beetles (Woodworms)

So, you need to get rid of the furniture beetles that are having their time drilling holes and spilling dust everywhere in your couch.

Or cabinets. Or walls. Or pantry?

Yikes.

These beetles (woodworms) will dig random tunnels that can really destroy the appearance and affect the structural integrity of your wood.

Thankfully, there are some things you can do about them to control, manage, and possibly eradicate them.

In this article, we’ll talk about these topics:

  • Why you have beetles eating up your furniture
  • Different ways you can get rid of furniture beetles (home remedies)
  • How to keep them away and out of your property
  • How to prevent future wood beetle problems
  • And more

Sound good? Let’s “reclaim” your wood!

(Did you get it?)

Sorry, I’ll stop.

What’s a furniture beetle?

A furniture beetle, also commonly called a woodworm or powderpost beetle, is a wood-boring insect that digs tunnels and creates pinholes in fresh, starchy wood.

They eat both hard and softwoods and will wreck the piece over time.

The larvae are responsible for nearly all the damage as they randomly chew their way through the wood fibers

Note that the adults don’t eat wood.

You may find them in your furniture, but if you leave them alone until they emerge as adults, they can fly to other timber in your house and infest those structures.

They’re also capable of eating up dressers, shelves, beds, pantries, cabinets, house beams, attics, basements, garages, and more.

Other names

The furniture beetle is also known by a bunch of other nicknames, such as:

  • Anobium punctatum
  • Powderpost beetle
  • Wood beetle
  • Wood boring beetle
  • Common furniture beetle
  • Punctatum
  • Common house borer
  • Monk’s cowl
  • Brown beetle
  • Woodworms
  • Old house borer
  • Common furniture borer

Furniture beetle life cycle

Furniture beetle damage pinholes.
Furniture beetle damage creates pinholes and sawdust. (By M0tty – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.)

The woodworm has a basic life cycle similar to any other wood-boring insect.

Laying eggs

The female beetles deposit eggs directly within wood cracks or crevices. They may even find old pinholes left by previous beetles and lay their eggs inside these pinholes.

The eggs will hatch after 21 days and a white, c-shaped larvae will emerge.

They’re about 1mm in length and are creamy in coloration.

Larvae damage

The larvae will eat the wood, dig tunnels, and leave an exit hole as an adult. This takes about 3-5 years, depending on the conditions of the wood.

They prefer starchy areas that are still wet from cutting, which is why fresh-cut wood is a perfect environment for furniture beetles.

The larvae habits are solely to feed on starchy, wet wood. This is all they do until they pupate.

These beetles get all the water and food straight from the wood.

Pupation

The larvae grow up to 7mm and then go near the wood surface to pupate. They transform into an adult beetle after about 8 weeks and dig an exit pinhole to escape.

The larvae never leave the wood during the infestation as it eats up the starchy fibers. The wood provides both a food and water source for the larvae to develop over time.

Adults don’t feed. Their only purpose is to mate and deposit more eggs in new wood.

After putting, the larvae turn into adults and bore a hole out of the wood.

What do furniture beetles look like?

Depending on whether the beetle is an adult or nymph, they have very distinct appearances, habits, and characteristics.

Adult furniture beetles

These beetles are about 0.25” in length as adults.

The nymphs are smaller but look like miniature versions of the adults. The bodies are elongated ovals.

They have small heads that are hard to see from above but can be seen from the side view.

These beetles are dark brown or orangish-brown in coloration.

The adults’ habits are to find a mate, breed, and the female will lay eggs.

he’ll find a newly cut piece of timber and deposit the eggs within a crack or crevice. She may even use previous pinholes.

Nymphs (larvae)

The nymphs are grubs, which look like small worms or maggots. These are freshly hatched from eggs and tiny.

The worms are grub-like. They can be confused with other wood-boring beetle nymphs because they’re very similar in appearance.

The larvae are the most damaging part of the beetle’s life cycle.

They burrow deep in your furniture, drilling holes, and tunnel systems.

This is when you also notice them for the first time.

Types of powderpost beetles

Woodworm damage.
Woodworm damage can be spotted on the soft edges of wood.

You’ll find three different types of furniture beetles in the house:

Lyctids

Lyctid furniture beetles only eat hardwood, mainly that’s only recently been cut down.

They deposit their eggs in the wood that’s left untreated and not heavily processed.

Newly cut lumber has a higher free starch content compared to aged wood.

Lyctids prefer newer wood and will often be found in wood that you just bought from the warehouse or hardware store.

The larvae will come out as adults and deposit eggs, but only on bare wood. Treated or sealed wood that’s been sprayed, stained, or waxed prevents these beetles from eating it up.

Anobiids

These powderpost bugs eat softwood and hardwoods.

You’ll see them eating up your furniture, cabinets, and shelving. They prefer damp and humid wood for the proper development of their larvae.

If you have a damp house and you notice powder coming out of your cabinets, it could be the work of anobiids.

Even the drip from a leaky plumbing problem or crawl space is enough for them to prosper. If you run the AC all the time, the humidity trapped in your house is enough for them to breed.

Bostrichidae

Bostrichidae also like extremely high moisture and newly cut wood.

Untreated wood can show visible holes right on the edges, but this can also be the work of OTHER wood-boring insects.

Furniture beetles aren’t the only bugs that chew wood. There are also longhorn beetles, bark beetles, shothole borers, etc.

These are the ones that leave behind sawdust and pinholes all over your wooden belongings.

Remember that it’s the larvae (worms) that do the damage. The baby (nymphs) are the ones that chew the tunnels and pinholes which ejects sawdust all over the place.

Adults are rarely seen by humans because they don’t like light, so they’re always hiding in the dark.

They also don’t dig tunnels or chew your furniture.

How to identify wood beetles in your furniture

Woodworm holes in wooden furniture.
Damage caused by larvae show up as sawdust piles.

Did you know you can identify the type of wood beetle you have just by the sawdust they leave behind?

  • The bostrichidae leave behind a powder that has a cornmeal-like texture.
  • The lyctids deposits are talc-like in texture.
  • And the anobiids powder is chalky.

But regardless of which one you have, the process to get rid of them is largely the same.

If you’re ever unsure about whether or not it’s the damage from a furniture beetle, hire a professional pest control agent to assess the work.

Carpet vs. wood beetle

Carpet beetles are very different from furniture beetles.

They look different, eat different materials, and live completely different lifestyles.

It’s easy to tell the difference between the two:

  • Carpet beetles have a spotted patterning on their shells
  • Furniture beetles are solid brown or black
  • Carpet beetles are tiny- they’re almost like small, circular walking specks
  • Furniture beetles are big, they can visibly be seen with their ovular shape
  • Carpet beetles are found as the name implies- on carpet, drapes, curtains, or other soft fabrics where they infest
  • Furniture beetles are wood-boring and live inside wooden materials

As you can see, it’s easy to tell them apart.

But telling one powderpost beetle from another is hard- as they’re all in the same genera.

Wood furniture beetles are just one of the many types of bugs that eat through your woods found on your property.

What causes furniture beetles?

Furniture beetles are a common pest that finds its way right into your wooden furniture through crevices and cracks.

They can enter your property through windows, doorframes or under the door, patio doors, unkept chimneys, and foundational damage.

Similar to other beetles that may be found in the house (soldier beetles, carpet beetles, flea beetles) they can also be transported indoors through new, used, or renewed wooden furniture.

Some people may be getting rid of the furniture by selling it for cheap, and an unsuspecting buyer will pick it up and bring the bugs into their property unknowingly. 

Where do they come from?

Woodworm beetle tunnels.
These tunnels are carved by the larvae.

Homes that are humid or high in moisture content may attract wood beetles as well.

And areas of the home that are commonly damp or trap moisture like garages, basements, and crawl spaces are perfect entry points.

If you have wood in there, they may infest those structural beams and units. There’s no exact cause for furniture beetles. If the conditions are right, beetles will enter the home.

Most homeowners aren’t even aware of the damage until they notice that their wooden furniture is damaged or full of holes.

Or have small piles of sawdust or wood dust on your wooden floors, cabinets, or even your bedframe!

These bugs can only be seen when the female is depositing her eggs and flying around, or when the larvae finishes pupating into an adult.

What are woodworms attracted to?

Larvae enter the wood and leave behind wooden dust.

They develop inside, hiding from predators. Then they come out after their molting is complete and move to other areas of your house.

A lot of wood beetle infestations start outdoors.

As they get older and continue their lifecycle, these buggers move towards the furnishings of your house- and this often when people notice.

Homes with higher humidity, around 16% is enough for them to infest.

Timber conditions define the attractiveness of the wood. Keep humidity low and this will prevent them from attacking it.

Where do they hide?

Furniture beetles prefer to hide in areas that protect them from predators

They like wood that’s wet or damp because it’s easier to chew through.

Woodworms may be found in furniture, wooden beams, hardwood or softwood surfaces in your home, sidings made from wood, crawl spaces, and other damp areas in your home. They’re almost as bad as termites.

Sometimes, you may even find termites and furniture beetles housed together in the same piece of wood!

Here’s a list of areas you’ll commonly find wood beetles:

  • Wooden structures
  • Baseboards
  • Corners of rooms
  • Ceiling joints
  • Crawl spaces
  • Door frames
  • Window frames and window sills
  • Under furniture
  • Shelving
  • Cabinets
  • Around appliances
  • Plumbing inlets and outlets
  • Crawl spaces
  • Wall voids
  • Attics

Can they fly?

Yes, furniture beetle adults are capable of flight.

This is how they seek out new wood fibers and furniture to infest. The adults’ sole purpose is to breed and deposit more eggs.

Adult furniture beetles will not eat wood as they don’t feed- only the larvae do. The larvae can’t fly as they don’t have developed wings- they’re just “worms” after all.

Only after pupation do they get their wingspan. But before pupation, woodworms can’t fly.

Do furniture beetles bite?

Furniture beetles are not likely to bite, sting, or transmit diseases to humans.

They’re not considered dangerous to pets and people, as the majority of the time they’re inside the wood as larvae.

Adult beetles are outside of the wood and only seek to mate so they can deposit more eggs.

As an adult, they don’t feed or drink. thus, it’s very unlikely they’ll bite a human or animal.

Are furniture beetles bad to have?

Well, that’s a subjective type of question.

Do you want beetles drilling holes in your TV stand and comprise the structural integrity of it?

Do you want your dresser to be a suitable home for beetle eggs?

Or how about your wardrobe filled with tiny tunnels and holes that crack the handle off?

These beetle larvae will burrow deep into your wooden lumber, which creates deep, dark tunnels that will damage your furniture out of sight.

When the boring gets bad enough, you’ll start to see the sawdust they leave behind. The structural timbers and flooring of your home are prime targets for these bugs.

They can also eat up your window sills, which are prone to humidity.

Signs of furniture beetles in the wood

Damage to wood from beetles.
These tunnels are from a similar pest- not to be confused with woodworm damage.

There are some common telltale signs of a wood beetle infestation, so they’re not that hard to identify.

If you suspect that your furniture may be infested, here are some clues to tell if you have furniture beetles:

  • Wood “dust” left behind- this can be found in your wood or small piles of it on the ground. This is a combination of the dust they ate through and their frass (poop).
  • You may find it in piles or on the surface of your wood furniture.
  • Visible holes in the furniture
  • Small protruding tunnels on thin wood structures
  • Weakened wood surfaces
  • Wood powder on or near wood (white powder is an active infestation, yellow is an older infestation).

Where do they lay eggs?

Adults deposit their eggs in holes, crevices, and cracks around your home. The larvae then hatch and will eat the wood. This process takes many years.

Wood beetles aren’t as destructive as termites and take longer to eat through the timber.

But if left alone, they can cause damage to your hardwood furniture, support beams, outdoor patio or decks, and other wooden structures. The larvae do the damage.

The pinholes are the most obvious sign, next to the sawdust piles. Look for hotels that are around 1.5mm in diameter.

You may find new existing holes and some wood dust scattered around these holes.

These are where adults leave the wood and the first signs of a furniture beetle problem.

What do they eat?

Furniture beetles are attracted to lumber and wood.

They eat both softwoods and hardwoods and are not just limited to your dining table or TV stand.

They can infest a variety of furniture and wooden structures, such as framing, hardwood, shelves, dressers, armoires, cabinets, pantries, chairs, couches, and more.

Woodworms can damage the wooden structure permanently which may cause the unit to fail.

All they need is a good source of moisture to weaken the wood (or make it rot), and then they can start feeding on the lumber.

Are they hard to get rid of?

Furniture beetles often require spot treatment.

There are some DIY home remedies you can try to get rid of them, such as pesticides, wood replacement, or borax.

But severe infestations often require a professional or to dispose of the word entirely.

Since they bore into wood, this makes it difficult to get inside to control these pests.

Or else you’ll have to damage or drill through your furniture to get to them.

How do you get rid of wood beetles in furniture?

Wood beetle damage split the wood and left pinholes all over.
Here’s how you get rid of these destructive pests.

Whether you have these furniture beetles on your couch, carpet, or shelving, the process to get rid of them varies from easy to difficult, depending on the severity of the infestation.

Here are some natural home remedies and methods you can try at home to get rid of them or prevent future infestations from taking place.

There are things you can do off the bat to help reduce the chances of your furniture becoming infested with these bugs.

Seal the wood

Sealing up the damaged furniture can be a good idea to stop these pests.

But only if they’ve already abandoned the wood in the first place.

If you’re sure that the infestation is gone, you can seal up the cracks and holes to prevent future wood borers from infesting the same piece again.

Use a wood safe sealant that’s made for this purpose.

But note that if the wood is severely compromised, it can pose a risk because of the tunnels and holes.

Replacing the wood entirely may be necessary.

Sealing is only an option if the overall structural integrity remains intact.

You may have to hire a professional if you don’t know how to assess the situation.

Depending on the piece that needs to be replaced or sealed, it may be economically beneficial to just toss it out and buy identical replacements.

But if it’s just a small piece, that single piece can be replaced alone so you can save the rest of it.

Depending on what material you have that’s infested, you should consider a few factors:

  • How much was damaged of the overall furniture
  • How much it’ll cost to replace a single part, seal a single part, or replace the whole furniture

You need to assess this and make a decision.

Note that if there’s an active infestation, sealing it with a sealant won’t do anything.

You need to kill the woodworms first and completely eradicate the infestation before you do anything else.

Reduce overall humidity

Humid wood attracts wood beetles.
Hardwoods, softwoods, and moist wood are all attractants for beetles.

Keep your overall humidity low.

This will make it not as favorable for beetles (and other bugs like silverfish, carpet beetles, etc.) to breed.

They need moisture so they can properly molt and transform from nymph to adult.

If you reduce the overall moisture content in your home, you can make it harder for them to breed and properly develop. Lowering the humidity also helps destroy their eggs.

Beetle eggs are tough. They require plenty of water droplets in the air to help them break out of it.

They also like the moisture because it makes it easier to bore through the fibers.

Of course, depending on the exact location of the furniture beetles, it can be a challenge to drop the humidity in that room.

Try opening windows, doors, or using air circulators for fans to keep the air moving.

This will greatly bring the humidity down and make the environment less favorable to these pesky beetles.

You can also buy a dehumidifier to help bring down the percentage for those rooms that have no windows (like basement or garage).

Moisture content that seeps directly into your wooden furniture is the start of a big pest problem.

Keeping moisture controlled and humidity in check will help keep your wooden units pest-free- and not just from beetles.

Aim to keep overall timber moisture under 12%. This is too dry for a beetle infestation to occur.

Use a wood spray

There are some effective spray and pesticides out there that can kill the larvae eating up your furniture.

Find something that’s borate-based for best results.

Since there are a ton of products on the market, I’ll leave it up to you to do your research and read reviews.

However, borate works well against wood borers and can kill any active larvae. After this, you can replace or seal the wood when you’re sure the pests are eliminated.

Borate may also be called “disodium octaborate tetrahydrate” which is a mixture of boron and oxygen.

This is NOT a natural solution and will release fumes.

You’ll need to wear proper PPE when you use it. Use as directed.

Some require mixing or dilution with water. They’re usually painted, sprayed, or applied with a paint roller.

This wood treatment kills the larvae and then can be sealed afterward. borate-based products are effective because they penetrate deep into the wood to get to all the woodworms.

Use as directed by the product label.

Borates work best only when the wood is still bare (untreated) and is still moist.

So newer cuts often can be sprayed with this compound for best results.

It’s because borates need to penetrate deep into the wood to work. Aged wood blocks borates.

So this is why you should do it early.

Do nothing

If you do nothing, this can also be a viable solution!

As scary as it sounds, simply waiting a year or so will greatly reduce the number of larvae eating up your wood.

Over time, the pests should decrease as the starchy wood hardens up and becomes less moist.

This naturally makes it harder for wood larvae to develop properly.

One way to assess the infestation progress is to simply check for sawdust and pinholes.

Are you seeing more dust or less dust over time?

Seeing dust is normal as adult beetles make their way out of the wood. But you should see fewer piles of it because the material gets less starchy and loses moisture over time.

You can monitor the number of dust piles. Just keep a pen and paper handy and chart how many you see per month or per year.

By 3-5 years, you should see very few as all the beetles leave and fly away.

Do you see the number of new pinholes slowing down over time?

Of course, the number of total holes will only get higher over time.

But it’s the logarithmic growth of the holes. The RATE of them should slow down.

For instance, you may see 3 per month. But then only 2. And then 1.

That’s progress. It’s showing that the infestation is slowing down and dying out.

Over 75% of the damage is done during the first year. And a single beetle infestation can last up to 5 years.

Refurnish the furniture

If you’re out of options, then you can replace the wood entirely.

This will eliminate the beetle nest, eggs, and any nymphs/adults that are present.

Of course, this always isn’t possible for everyone. If the furniture that’s infested is already worn or ready to be replaced, consider just throwing it out.

If it’s an expensive piece, you may be able to get just the part that’s infested to be professionally replaced.

However, if it’s just some old, generic junk, why not throw it out?

The wood may already be compromised and weak due to the tunnels and holes the wood-boring pests already drilled. You may have woodworms, wood beetles, or even termites.

If the infestation has been ongoing for some time, consider replacing it entirely and buying some good furniture.

The thing to note is that you need to exterminate ALL beetles BEFORE you replace the furniture.

If you don’t, the furniture borers can just go to your newly purchased desk, dresser, table, or whatever else you have and start eating it up.

So only when you’re sure that completely eradicated the beetles, then go ahead and replace the wood.

Buy older wood

Aged wood stack.
Aged woods have less starch content.

Need new furniture but don’t have time to deal with the possibility of powderpost beetles?

You can buy used or secondhand furniture that’s been aged, but you’ll need to do the same thing- check it for bugs.

Or you can buy new furniture that’s been sitting at the store for many years.

Over time, the starch disappears and it becomes less attractive to furniture beetles. It also takes the larvae of the beetle longer to develop.

And some stores sell at a discount for furniture that’s been sitting around.

Does borax kill bugs in wood?

Borax may work on pests like silverfish, booklice, and ants, but for woodworms specifically? Not really.

The larvae dig twisted tunnels into the wood- to the point where borax can’t reach them. This is why sprays don’t work well for these kinds of pests.

Usually, it’s local heat treatment, gas, or liquid that works best.

Hire an exterminator

A professional exterminator can restore wood or locally heat treat it with compounds that the public doesn’t have access to.

If you’re ever lost or need to save an antique piece, consider hiring a licensed exterminator.

Do some research. Read reviews.

See who specializes locally in wood treatment.

You can also consider getting the expert opinion of a carpenter or woodworker. They may be experienced with this common pest.

How do you keep wood beetles away?

Starchy wood damage from woodworms.
These woodborers can make some crazy, random tunnels in starchy wood.

The best way to get rid of woodworms is to never let these bugs in your home.

Wood beetles are often smuggled into your house without you even knowing. They may arrive hiding in wood that’s already infested from the warehouse.

Be wary every time you buy wood-based products, especially:

  • Wooden boards
  • Planks
  • Furniture
  • Used wooden products
  • Firewood

Check thoroughly for damage, holes, tunnels, or sawdust on or around the product. If you notice any signs of wood beetles, remove and dispose of the piece entirely.

Other than doing your due diligence when buying new wood products, you can also seal the wood before you use it.

This is doing damage control by killing any larvae you may have missed. Use a boron-based product as mentioned above. Then seal the wood entirely for additional protection.

Doing both of these will help you prevent beetles.

But no approach is ever 100% guaranteed. Be careful about bringing any new products into your home.

How do I keep wood beetles away?

This is a loaded question and there are tons of answers.

Use the DIY home remedies outlined above to get rid of any current beetle problem.

After that, consider the following points to keep your furniture beetle free:

  • Use aged wood (5 years or older) with no ongoing infestations
  • Seal or treat your wood
  • Apply a boron-based solution to new wood before using it
  • Monitor for powder or pinholes in new wood
  • Keep humidity under 12% where possible
  • Avoid woods that have high starch content or moisture content
  • Dry out the wood before using it for construction
  • Quarantine new wood furniture, shelvings, cabinets, etc.
  • Use common sense and treat all new wood as infested

There is no surefire way to get rid of furniture beetles. You can only use your best judgment and practice good habits to control, manage, and eradicate them.

Because of the many variations in wood types and applications, there’s no exact answer.

Further reading

Here are some additional, extra references you may find helpful to get rid of woodworms:

Did you get rid of the furniture beetles?

Some wooden holes that adult woodborers dug out.
Be patient and decide the right plan of action.

You should now have the basics down to get rid of any wood beetles in your furniture.

It’ll take extreme attention to detail to find these buggers and you’ll have to use the right compounds to get rid of them- unless you decide to replace the wood entirely.

However, once you do, make sure you examine, treat, and seal all future wooden pieces you bring into your home. Then you never have to deal with this headache again.

Prevent them by reducing the overall humidity in your home, sealing up cracks and entry points, and keeping your wood inspected and sealed.

Do you have any questions about wood furniture beetles?

Post a comment and ask! Or if you have any advice to share with other readers, please do the same!

If you have any feedback or found this page somewhat helpful, please let me know as well. Consider telling a friend who may get some benefit out of it.

Thanks for reading.

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *