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Woodworms In Furniture

Let’s talk about woodworms in furniture. We all know that furniture adds beauty and functionality to our homes, but sometimes we overlook the tiny creatures that can silently wreak havoc on our beloved pieces. These pesky wood-boring insects, commonly known as woodworms, can cause significant damage to wooden furniture if left untreated. From their tiny entry holes to the destruction they cause beneath the surface, it’s important to be aware of these critters and take the necessary steps to protect our cherished wooden possessions. In this article, we will explore the signs of woodworm infestation, prevention measures, and effective treatment options to ensure your furniture stays in tip-top condition.

What are Woodworms?

Woodworms are small beetles that lay their eggs in wood, where the larvae feed on the wood fibers. They are commonly found in furniture, as well as in structural wood in homes and buildings. Woodworm infestations can cause significant damage to wooden furniture and structures if left untreated.


Identifying woodworms can be challenging, as they are small and often hide within the wood. However, there are some signs to look out for. Adult woodworm beetles are typically around 2-7mm long and have a dark brown or black color. They have hardened wing covers and can often fly.


Woodworm beetles have a lifecycle that consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Adult female beetles lay their eggs in cracks and crevices in the wood. The eggs then hatch into larvae, which bore into the wood and feed on its fibers. The larvae can remain in this stage for several years, depending on the species. Once fully developed, they pupate and eventually emerge as adult beetles.


Woodworm larvae cause damage by feeding on the wood, creating tunnels and galleries as they go. This can weaken the structure of the wood and cause it to become brittle and easily damaged. If left untreated, woodworm infestations can lead to structural problems in furniture and buildings. Identifying and addressing woodworm infestations early is crucial to prevent further damage.

Signs of Woodworm Infestation

Small Holes

One of the most telltale signs of a woodworm infestation is the presence of small holes in the wood. These holes are where the adult beetles have emerged after completing their lifecycle. The holes are typically round or oval-shaped and can vary in size depending on the species of woodworm.

Powdery Dust

Another sign of a woodworm infestation is the presence of powdery dust or frass around the wood. Frass is the waste material produced by the woodworm larvae as they feed on the wood. It often accumulates near the exit holes and can be easily brushed away. The color of the frass may vary depending on the type of woodworm.

Crumbling Wood

Wood infected with woodworms may start to show signs of deterioration. The wood may become crumbly or weak, with the surface easily crumbling or breaking apart when touched. This is a result of the larva’s feeding and tunneling activities, which weaken the wood fibers.

Tunnels and Galleries

If you suspect a woodworm infestation, inspect the wood for tunnels and galleries created by the larvae. These tunnels may not be immediately visible, but closer inspection may reveal small channels within the wood. The extent and complexity of the tunnels can vary depending on the age and size of the infestation.

Common Types of Woodworms

Common Furniture Beetle

The common furniture beetle, also known as Anobium punctatum, is one of the most common types of woodworm. It typically targets softwoods such as pine and spruce. The adult beetles are small and dark brown, while the larvae are creamy white with a curved body.

Deathwatch Beetle

The deathwatch beetle, also known as Xestobium rufovillosum, prefers hardwoods such as oak and chestnut. It is named for the tapping sound it makes when searching for a mate. The adult beetles are dark brown or black, while the larvae are creamy-white with a characteristic humpback shape.

House Longhorn Beetle

The house longhorn beetle, also known as Hylotrupes bajulus, primarily infests softwoods such as pine and fir. It is named for its long antennae. The adult beetles are grayish-brown with distinctive white markings, while the larvae are creamy-white with a curved body.

Powderpost Beetle

The powderpost beetle, also known as Lyctus brunneus, primarily attacks hardwoods such as oak and ash. It is named for the fine, powdery frass it produces. The adult beetles are reddish-brown, while the larvae are creamy-white and have a C-shaped body.

Preventing Woodworm Infestation

Prevention is key when it comes to woodworm infestations. Here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of woodworms in your furniture:

Quality Wood Selection

Choose quality, well-seasoned wood for your furniture. Wood that is properly dried and treated is less likely to be susceptible to woodworm infestations. Avoid using wood that is already infested or has visible signs of damage.

Proper Drying and Treating

If you are working with untreated wood, ensure that it is properly dried before use. Moisture in the wood can attract woodworm beetles. Additionally, consider treating the wood with an appropriate wood preservative to further protect it from infestations.

Protective Wood Finishes

Apply a protective finish, such as paint, varnish, or wood stain, to the surface of the wood. This creates a barrier that can make it more difficult for woodworm beetles to lay their eggs and penetrate the wood. Regularly inspect and maintain the finish to ensure its effectiveness.

Regular Inspection and Maintenance

Regularly inspect your furniture for any signs of woodworm infestation. Look for small holes, frass, crumbling wood, or tunnels. If you notice any signs, take immediate action to address the infestation. Additionally, conduct routine maintenance practices such as cleaning and dusting to prevent dust buildup, which can attract woodworm beetles.

Treating Woodworm Infested Furniture

If you have identified a woodworm infestation in your furniture, there are several treatment methods you can consider:


One method of treating woodworm-infested furniture is freezing. Place the furniture in a freezer or a specialized freezing facility for several days. The extreme cold temperature kills the woodworm larvae and prevents further damage. However, it is important to note that this method may not be suitable for all types of furniture or wood.


Another treatment method is heating. This involves raising the temperature of the wood to a level that kills the woodworm larvae. This can be done using specialized equipment such as heat chambers or by exposing the furniture to direct sunlight for extended periods. Care must be taken to avoid damaging the furniture during the heating process.

Chemical Treatments

Chemical treatments are a commonly used method for treating woodworm infestations. There are various woodworm treatment products available, such as sprays, gels, and pastes, that contain insecticides. These treatments are applied to the affected areas of the furniture, killing the woodworm larvae and protecting the wood from further infestations.

Professional Woodworm Treatment

In some cases, it may be necessary to seek professional woodworm treatment services. Professional treatment offers expertise and specialized equipment that may be required for severe infestations or for delicate or valuable furniture. Here is an overview of the professional woodworm treatment process:

Assessment and Investigation

A professional woodworm treatment specialist will assess the extent of the infestation and identify the species of woodworm involved. They will thoroughly inspect the furniture and any surrounding wood to determine the best course of action.

Treatment Plan

Based on the assessment, the specialist will develop a treatment plan tailored to the specific infestation. The plan may include a combination of methods such as freezing, heating, or chemical treatments.

Execution and Monitoring

The treatment plan will be executed by the specialist, who will follow the necessary protocols for each method. They will closely monitor the process to ensure effectiveness and minimize any potential risks.

Follow-up and Prevention

After the treatment is completed, the specialist will provide recommendations for ongoing prevention and maintenance. They may suggest regular inspections, treatments, or other preventive measures to prevent future woodworm infestations.

DIY Woodworm Treatment

For smaller infestations or for those who prefer a do-it-yourself approach, there are some DIY woodworm treatment methods available. However, it is important to note that tackling woodworm infestations on your own may carry risks and may not be suitable for all situations. Here is a general overview of the DIY woodworm treatment process:

Identifying Infested Furniture

Carefully inspect the furniture for signs of woodworm infestation, including small holes, frass, crumbling wood, or tunnels. Ensure that you have correctly identified the species of woodworm involved.

Freezing Method

If suitable for the furniture, consider freezing the infested pieces. Wrap the furniture securely in plastic and place it in a freezer for several days. Monitor the temperature and duration to ensure effective eradication of the woodworm larvae.

Heating Method

For furniture that cannot be frozen, consider the heating method. Raise the temperature of the furniture using direct sunlight or specialized heating equipment. Take precautions to prevent damage to the wood and monitor the temperature and duration closely.

Chemical Treatments

Apply a commercially available woodworm treatment product to the affected areas of the furniture. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and exercise caution when handling and applying the treatments. Be sure to use appropriate protective equipment and adhere to safety guidelines.

Repairing Woodworm Damage

After treating a woodworm infestation, it may be necessary to repair any damage caused by the larvae or the treatment process. Here are some common methods for repairing woodworm damage:

Filling Holes and Cracks

Fill any holes or cracks in the wood using an appropriate wood filler. Ensure that the filler matches the color and texture of the wood for a seamless repair. Once the filler has dried, sand and finish the repaired area to achieve a smooth surface.

Replacing Damaged Wood

In cases where the wood has suffered extensive damage, it may be necessary to replace the affected sections. Carefully remove the damaged wood and replace it with new, matching material. Secure the replacement wood using appropriate methods such as gluing or nailing.

Refinishing and Restoring

After any repairs have been made, refinish and restore the furniture to its original appearance. This may involve sanding, staining, varnishing, or painting the wood to achieve the desired finish. Properly finishing and restoring the furniture not only enhances its appearance but also adds a protective layer.

Storing and Caring for Wood Furniture

Proper storage and care are essential for maintaining the longevity and condition of wood furniture. Here are some tips to help you store and care for your wood furniture:

Proper Storage Conditions

Store wood furniture in a dry and well-ventilated area to prevent moisture build-up, which can attract woodworm beetles. Avoid placing the furniture directly against walls or in areas prone to dampness. Use protective covers or bags to prevent dust accumulation.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Regularly clean and dust your wood furniture to prevent the buildup of dirt and debris that could attract woodworm beetles. Use a soft cloth or brush to remove dust, and consider using a specialized wood cleaner to maintain the natural shine and beauty of the wood.

Avoiding Excessive Moisture

Keep wood furniture away from areas with excessive moisture or humidity, as this can create favorable conditions for woodworm infestations. Use dehumidifiers or moisture-absorbent products in areas with high humidity, and ensure proper ventilation to reduce moisture.

Controlling Temperature and Humidity

Maintain a stable temperature and humidity level in the area where your wood furniture is located. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause the wood to expand and contract, potentially leading to structural damage over time. Use temperature and humidity controls to create a stable environment.


Woodworm infestations can be a significant concern for wooden furniture, causing damage and compromising their structural integrity. Identifying the signs of woodworm infestation early and taking prompt action is crucial to prevent further damage. By following preventive measures, utilizing appropriate treatment methods, and implementing proper storage and care practices, you can protect your wood furniture from woodworm infestations, ensuring its longevity and beauty for years to come.


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