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Termites are highly destructive insects. They do billions of dollars worth of damage to buildings each year. One reason they’re so good at destroying property is that they are often able to remain undetected for an extended time, sometimes even years. All the while, they’re eating their way through a building at a rate of five grams a day. Here’s something you may not know, though: termites like to eat furniture, especially antiques, and these little bugs can go undetected in your wood furniture as well.

Does that surprise you? It seems like you’d notice if something were eating your furniture, right? Not necessarily. Termites are tiny, so you might not realize they’re in your furniture until you notice some tell-tale signs. As with termites in your home, the evidence of damage depends on the type of termite causing it. In furniture you’re currently using in your home, the infestation will probably be drywood termites. These termites can build their nests in a small piece of wood and don’t need easy access to water or a moisture source. Because drywood termite colonies are small and contained entirely inside the wood, they leave very few tell-tale signs of their activity. You might see discarded wings or notice termite droppings, known as frass, which looks something like sawdust.

On the other hand, if your furniture is in a damp environment, subterranean termites may invade it. This species of termite needs moisture to live, and they travel into your home through mud tubes. They don’t typically seek out the furniture but can happen upon it coincidentally on their way into the house. If you notice mud tubes on the walls near where you’re storing your furniture, you may have an infestation in the furniture as well.

With any termite damage to your furniture, you’re likely to see tiny holes or notice that the furniture feels unstable or sounds hollow. If you notice this damage, you should call a termite control professional. Termites in your furniture can quickly become a problem for the rest of your house as well. If a termite infestation is not entirely eradicated, the termites will keep coming back to do more damage.

You can apply insecticide to your furniture or have your house fumigated to kill termites. The best way to keep termites out of your furniture and your home is by being proactive. To keep termites from infesting your furniture, follow these simple steps:

  • Keep the furniture dry. Moisture in or around your furniture creates a welcoming environment for subterranean termites. Don’t store your furniture anywhere damp, like a crawlspace or garage. Never clean wooden furniture with water or another liquid, but instead clean it with a dry cloth. If your wooden furniture is on a porch or balcony, take special care during the rainy season to ensure it stays dry. Applying a fresh coat of waterproof paint once a year can help protect your wooden furniture.
  • Applying polish can protect your furniture from termites. Termite-resistant and oil-based varnishes and polishes can help keep termites away from your wooden furniture. When applied liberally all over the furniture, especially on the base and legs, these polishes create a protective coat that’s hard and shiny.
  • You might like oil and vinegar on your salads, but termites don’t like it at all. Olive oil and white vinegar applied to your furniture creates a barrier that termites don’t want to cross.
  • Try Some Aloe Vera: Aloe vera gel also provides an obstacle to termites when you apply it to your furniture. It’s important to use pure aloe vera, though. Aloe vera gel that can be purchased in stores often contains chemicals and fragrances that can attract termites instead of repelling them.

Of course, the best way to keep termites out of your furniture is to keep them out of your house entirely. Since termites need moisture to survive and can’t live in the open air for any length of time, getting rid of excess moisture in your house is the first line of defense against them. Seal gaps around your water and gas lines to remove entry points and keep wood off the ground on your property. To do this, don’t let your wood siding touch the ground, and don’t pile up firewood near your house.  Check any lumber or other building materials before using them, don’t store wood or cardboard in your crawl space, and keep your crawl space dry and well-ventilated. Installing a vapor barrier in your crawl space is important because it keeps moisture off the wood in your home’s supporting structures and can help prevent termites from infesting it.

The most important factor in preventing a termite infestation, though, is enlisting the help of professionals. When you schedule a professional inspection annually, termite removal experts can make sure you’re aware of any potential problems, whether that’s a likely entry point or the beginning of an infestation. They can help you determine any trouble spots where you may unwittingly be creating a welcoming environment for termites, as well as explaining the signs to notice in case of an infestation. In addition to treating an existing termite infestation, termite professionals can provide preventive maintenance to keep termites out in the future.

At MightyMite Termite Services, we perform termite inspections to ensure that your home is free of termites. We also work hard to help you keep your home safe from termites, use naturally derived treatments and have a low impact on the environment. We diagnose and treat infestations with the most effective methods and unmatched warranties, solving your termite problems the first time, with an industry-best “no call-back rate.” That, combined with our experience, technology, and highly trained professional staff, makes us the leading extermination company in the Bay Area. We understand that your home is your most important investment, so we work hard to provide excellent service, utilizing best practices to solve our customers’ termite problems in Northern California. For more information, call us today at 408.335.7053, email, or contact us through our website.

7 tips to protect wood from termites infographic