What Is Woodworm, How To Spot And Treat Furniture?

If you are a bargain hunter and love the thrill of the thrift, then you need to watch out for woodworm in your second-hand furniture pieces. You may be getting a bargain piece of furniture, but you do not want to bring infested pieces into your home. What causes woodworm, how to treat it and how to avoid it.

Small round holes in your woodwork, fine powdery dust, crumbled edges and joints of the furniture, and spots around the house. All of these are telltale signs of woodworm. Whether you are an upcycling newbie or not, it is important to be mindful of woodworm and how to spot it.

Are you suspicious about a piece of furniture? Are you feeling frustrated after buying a second-hand piece only to find it infested with woodworm? Do you know what woodworms are? Do you want to learn more so you can avoid infested pieces?
Read on to learn more.

What is woodworm, signs of woodworm and how to treat woodworm.

What is a woodworm? 

Woodworm is a commonly known name for a species known as a larvae stage of wood-boring beetles. These insects appear in various households in the summer months starting from April and stay till October or November, right before the winter season starts. 

They target homes that have untreated or exposed timber. The woodworms are of creamy white colour with curved slimy bodies. It isn’t easy to spot woodworms as they are very tiny when they are young. They stay out of sight when eating and infesting timber and can only be spotted when they grow up. 

The average size of a woodworm varies between 3 to 4mm, depending on its growth and lifespan. 

Identifying infestation in the initial stages is the most challenging part is you might not even be aware that a woodworm infestation is taking place. Instead, you may notice when the damage is visible, and by that time, the woodworm has spread everywhere in the timber. 

There are different types of woodworms, including house longhorn beetle, deathwatch beetle, false powder-post beetle, and typical furniture beetle, which is the most popular and commonly found in homes. These woodworms are visible in exit holes in any wood or timber. 

Woodworm beetle in wood.

What causes woodworm? 

The lifecycle of woodworm is roughly around three years. It could mean the furniture or wood in your house was infested long before the infected pieces of furniture moved into your home. 

The cause of woodworm is usually the high moisture content in your furniture timber in which adult female beetles lay eggs in the moist wood so that their eggs can be protected and provided with shelter. 

One of the most common woodworm attacks is the holes that you see in your timber. These holes are created by the woodworms when they’re done with the infestation, and they are looking for a way to escape. Also, worms are typically attracted to damp and wet surfaces. 

If your wood has any leaks or improper insulation, it may lead to decay in wood which will then attract the woodworms. 

Moreover, driftwood, firewood, and well as untreated furniture, which is not maintained correctly, can also cause inviting woodworms. For that very reason, you must treat and examine all furniture made of timber occasionally to prevent moisture build-up so that your furniture is not an easy target for woodworms and other insects. 

It is best that you take preventive measures before things get out of your hand and you have to throw out your furniture or pay for the costly services. 

When searching for second-hand items, I find pieces of furniture stored in cold and damp sheds can have infestation. 

Woodworm in furniture.

Is woodworm dangerous?

 Woodworm is not dangerous, and it does not cause any direct harm to the health of human beings. However, the infestations caused by woodworm can be severe as they put you and your property at risk. Wood and timber can become infected by woodworm without you noticing it for years, it will cost you repairs if left untreated. 

As most homes include around 70% of timber, increased woodworm spread will leave you no other choice except to throw out your furniture and get a new one, which will be very costly. 

Woodworms might not be a severe problem or a dangerous issue, but they sure are a nuisance as they threaten the structure of your home. Furthermore, not many people know this, but if woodworms do not find enough places to host, they can cause allergies and swelling reactions to human beings who are sensitive and vulnerable. 

It is better to stay safe and take action immediately when you first notice the telltale signs of infestation in your furniture. 

Signs of woodworm, dust in wood.

How to treat woodworm?

If your woodworm infestation only covers a small area, you can quickly treat it yourself by applying the correct method. However, if the infestation has spread over a large area or almost all of your furniture, it is recommended that you hire some professionals. 

Search your local area for pest control services. You may need to have a site survey if you feel the infestation has spread. Old wooden floors can crumble if left untreated. It is best to be safe if you think there is a larger infestation.

Here are some woodworm treatment methods for you to consider if it is a minor infestation. Also, remove an infested piece of furniture from your home and store it in a garage or shed. Make sure an infested piece of furniture is away from other furniture pieces.

Chemical Spray

If the woodworm attack is minimal or can be managed easily, you only need to use something basic. You can opt for a chemical spray on all affected areas such as the furniture and timber to get rid of the woodworms. 

Vinegar Treatment 

A vinegar treatment is a very successful DIY that is used by people to get rid of woodworms. Take a rag and an all-purpose cleaner and mix them with white vinegar. Wipe the infected places with a cloth until the woodworms are wiped off. 


Flytraps are an effective way of getting rid of woodworm beetles. All you have to do is place the fly traps in sheds and ventilated areas in your home. The fly traps will kill the emerging beetles which come out after the infestation. 

Borate Treatment 

A borate treatment is a low-toxicity treatment used on wood indoors to protect it from the weather. It lasts between 5 to 10 years if done correctly. 


Permethrin is one of the most common insecticides used to kill and get rid of the infestation. It is a high-strength water-based formula with active ingredients that also controls the growth of woodworms. It is easy to use and does not require any helpers. This means that you alone can control the woodworm growth.

Floor board damage.

How to repair woodworm damage?

Once you have successfully treated the woodworm, it’s time to check for damage. 

Check for crumbling pieces of wood and replace them. It is good to replace crumbling wood, so the furniture has proper support. 

If it is a floor or a larger infestation, you may need to replace the whole floor. Consult a carpenter or tradesman for professional advice and have a site survey. 

Use wood filler to fill in the small round holes left by the woodworm. Apply wood filler and lightly sand once it has dried. You can then re-stain the wood or paint it. 

Woodworm isn’t the end of the world. However, I would be aware of it when shopping for second-hand furniture. Don’t be afraid to ask can you check for woodworm, as it will cost you more to repair in the long run. 

If you are a beginner, I suggest avoiding buying pieces thave have woodworm. If you are more advanced and have a garage space to treat furniture, then go for it! Make sure to haggle on the price and factor in the cost of treating the infestation. 

Do you want more furniture up-cycling tips? Check out these posts below.

Let me know if you found this post helpful, and please share with your fellow up-cyclers who may enjoy this post. Thanks for reading, Catherine. 

How to spot woodworm when up cycling furniture.

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