Termites prefer damp environments and typically live in colonies near wooden structures. Learn more about termites and how to protect your home.
All too often, termites can invade your home without you ever knowing they're inside. And it's important to note that Terminix® will only treat your structure for termites - not your furniture. But it's important to learn about how termites can infest furniture and the signs to look for, because if you have termites in your furniture then they may be in other parts of your home as well. Some of the more common furnishings that are subject to termite attacks are built-in furniture, such as bookcases, vanities, and cabinets. However, drywood termites can be more invasive. Although this species of termite is confined to warmer or more tropical climates in states such as Florida and California, they can wreak havoc on wooden furniture such as beds, chairs, and more.
Drywood termites can slip into crevices of wood furniture and other nearly invisible cracks and feed on the wood. As the insects eat away at your furniture, the resulting spaces also provide them with a discreet home inside your home. Learning to detect the presence of termites and how to get rid of them is essential to avoiding the destruction they can cause.
What kind of furniture can termites infest?
Drywood termites live in small colonies inside dry wood. Unlike other termites that need moisture from an outside source, drywood termites get the moisture they need from the wood they are infesting.
Most commonly, drywood termites infest wooden items such as pieces of furniture that are actively being used and your home's woodwork. These tiny pests can be difficult to spot, so you have to know where to check for signs of these termites in your home.
Drywood termites can commonly be found in a variety of areas inside your home:
- Furniture (particularly antiques)
- Inside built-in cabinets
- Door and window frames
- Baseboards, around the perimeter (especially if you have hardwood floors)
- Exposed beams and wood paneling
How to tell if there are termites inside your furniture
If you're not looking for termites, you may not even notice these tiny invaders inside your home until after the damage has been done. If you suspect you have drywood termites inside your home, or you're simply hoping to exercise caution by adhering to a regimen of prevention techniques, practice the following:
- Look for swarmers
- Winged termites swarm from small openings, known as swarm holes, in the surface of the wood. Swarmers are drawn to light, so look for them near light fixtures or windows at different times during the day.
- Drywood termites have small swarms (only 10 to 100 swarmers), so if you aren't home during the swarm, you may not even notice the termites.
Check for discarded termite wings
Swarmers shed their wings after they land. Since the termites swarm in a group, the shed wings are often left in a pile. Look for piles of wings littering the floor, on windowsills or in spider webs.
Inspect for frass (termite droppings)
When termites eat wood, they leave behind termite droppings called “frass" that are the same color as the wood they were eating. These hard pellets are 1/32-inch long and are hexagonal. Termites push the droppings through the kick holes they've chewed into the wood. Piles of frass can resemble sawdust and can be difficult to detect. Look for holes or piles of pellets:
- Under the furniture
- Inside drawers
- On internal horizontal surfaces or furniture
- Listen for hollow-sounding wood
Termites are capable of doing significant damage because they often go unnoticed. Typically, furniture infested by termites will appear to be perfectly fine on the surface, but it may be suffering internal damage as a result of an infestation. Inspect your wooden furniture for termites by tapping or knocking on the surface in various places. Infested furniture will sound hollow when you tap on it, even if the surface shows no apparent signs of damage.
Look for wood damage
While wood damage may not be readily noticeable on the surface of the furniture, you may be able to find damage in less visible places. Signs of an infestation may include droppings (frass) that resemble dry coffee grounds (although lighter in color), and damages to surfaces such as buckling paint, sunken spaces or small holes on interior parts of the furniture.
What to do if you have termites inside your furniture
If you've seen the signs of a termite infestation in your wood furniture, it's important to take action immediately. Understanding the size of the infestation can be difficult, since termites are hidden and can often spread without being noticed.
The best way to determine how serious your termite infestation has become is to have a professional perform a termite inspection. As long as termites are inside your home, they'll continue to damage your wood furniture and, potentially, even structural elements of your home.
If termites are found in the structure of your home during the inspection, Terminix® offers two main ways to treat for termites in the structure of your home, depending on the size of the infestation and the species of termites you're dealing with.
Wood treatments work immediately and protect the structure of your home against future infestation. We highly recommend that a professional perform this treatment, both for effectiveness and safety.
Fumigation uses an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered gas to kill the termites and must be completed by a professional exterminator. Fumigation can only be done by a trained and licensed termite control professional.
If you're concerned about the presence of termites in your home, look for all the signs and symptoms that indicate a termite infestation. Since termites can be difficult to find and challenging to get rid of, it's recommended you consult a professional exterminator. To learn more about termites and how to get rid of them, get in touch with the termite control experts at Terminix®.