That Adorable Cabinet for Sale May Bug You at Home

Furniture Beetles 500x339 That Adorable Cabinet for Sale May Bug You at Home

Beetle Damage - 

Some of the most beautiful, ornate pieces of furniture can be found at a garage sale or estate sale. But what you may not see is that deep inside the wood of the piece could be a number of different wood-boring insects, bed bugs or termites. Inspect all secoondhand wood furniture you buy to be sure you don't bring these little critters into your home.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs don't stick strictly to beds. No, they like dark, cozy places in the creases of chairs and crannies of wood furniture. Pest control companies warn of a national bed bug epidemic, as they hitch rides with unknowing travelers and take up residence in their homes.

When you're browsing your next yard sale, take a moment to inspect the piece of furniture or wood frame. You can find eggs in keyholes and nail holes. Shine a flashlight into narrow openings. If it's a painted cabinet, check any loose paint for signs of bed bugs. Check every narrow crack and little seam for evidence of these pesky buggers. You might see exoskeletons, small red stains or the actual bugs themselves. Be cautious where you are getting your furniture. If there's a beautiful cabinet in the alley for the taking, you have to wonder why it's there. Leave it.


Termites, too, like to hitch rides on unsuspecting wood furniture pieces. Drywood termites don't live in the soil, so they can easily eat into any wood furniture and create a nest inside. The best way to tell if they have make your cabinet their home and food source is to look for piles of small light brown fecal pellets inside or underneath the infested piece of wood.


There are three groups of wood-boring beetles that can do significant damage to your furniture. Upon invasion, the larvae do the most internal damage. Once they reach the adult stage, they chew a hole through round exit holes, according to the University of California Agriculture & Nature Resources.

  • Powderpost Beetles: Prefer hard woods with pores, so they can lay their eggs on the wood   surface. They like oak, ash, walnut, hickory and mahogany. Evidence comes in the form of tiny   exit holes and fine, powdery frass (mixture of feces and wood fragments).
  • Deathwatch Beetles: Prefer soft wood, primarily Douglas fir. Typically, deathwatch beetles   will be found in decaying and old wood. They prefer moisture, so if you have central a/c and   heat, you might find them only in basements or outbuildings. Their presence is detected similarly   to the powderpost beetle, except you'll find exit holes of different sizes.
  • False Powderpost Beetles: Like both soft and hard woods, and they are frequently imported   into America on bamboo and Philippine mahogany. These little guys lay eggs deep into the surface   after boring a tunnel into the wood. Their frass is more course and gritty than the other two   varieties. They will often bore into soft metals as well. They can be found in dying branches of   native oak and walnut trees and with eucalyptus.


The best management system to assure you don't have an infestation is prevention. Clear tree branches away from home. Inspect firewood. Seal pores, cracks and holes. Destroy infected wood by burning it.

To treat infected wood for termites and beetles, use an insecticide like sodium borate—but note that finished wood cannot successfully be treated, because the insecticide can't seep properly into the wood. Some items can be heated or frozen to kill off insects. Usually it's best to play it safe and call in a professional to take care of the infestation.

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