The Silent Destroyers: Termites and Furniture


Termites and Their Diet

Termites are often associated with structural damage, but few realize that their dietary interests extend beyond mere wooden beams. Subterranean, drywood, and dampwood are the most common termite species in Australia. They primarily feed on cellulose, a compound found in plant materials. While wooden structures are a prominent source of cellulose, so too is furniture, making your prized pieces susceptible to these persistent pests.


The Attraction to Furniture

Many Melbourne residents, particularly those in St Kilda with its older homes and moisture-rich environment, have been startled to find termite colonies thriving in their furniture. The appeal? Many furniture pieces, especially antique or vintage finds, are made of solid wood, offering a substantial food source. Additionally, furniture often provides the dark, undisturbed environments that termites prefer.


Signs of Termite Infestation in Furniture

Identifying termite presence early can save countless dollars and heartache. Some signs include:

  • Hollowed-out wood
  • Frass or termite droppings, resembling sawdust
  • Soft clicking sounds from within the furniture
  • Mud tubes on furniture surfaces
  • Visible termites – winged or otherwise


Why Furniture Can Be at Greater Risk

Unlike house frames, which are often treated or made of termite-resistant timber, many furniture pieces, especially older ones, may not have undergone such protective measures. The diverse range of wood types used in furniture also offers a varied diet, with softer woods like pine, spruce, and cedar being particularly vulnerable.


Health and Safety Concerns

While termites in furniture primarily pose a threat to the item itself, their presence can indicate a larger infestation in your home. Left unchecked, they can compromise the structural integrity of a house. Moreover, while termites aren’t directly harmful to humans, some people can develop allergies or asthma from termite droppings and mould.


Termite Prevention and Control for Furniture

Securing your furniture from these silent destroyers requires a multi-pronged approach:

  • Regularly inspect furniture for signs of termite activity.
  • Keep furniture dry as moisture attracts termites.
  • Use termite-resistant polish or finishes on wooden furniture.
  • Store wood furniture off the ground, preferably on metal stands.
  • Avoid storing cardboard or paper near wood furniture; they can attract termites.
  • Seek professional pest control services if termites are detected.


Engaging Expertise: The Melbourne Perspective

While many over-the-counter solutions claim to rid homes of termites, a complete and thorough eradication often requires professional intervention. With termite species varying across regions and displaying differing behaviours, local Termite Extermination experts, like that from Professional Termite Control Melbourne, is invaluable.


The Science Behind Termite Behaviour

Termites are social insects, living in colonies that can range from a few to millions. They communicate using pheromones and can detect minute changes in moisture and temperature, guiding their search for food. Their ability to silently eat away at wood from the inside out, leaving only a thin veneer intact, is a marvel of natural engineering and adaptability.


In Conclusion: A Table of Quick Facts

Aspect Details
Dietary Preference Cellulose from plant material
Commonly Infested Untreated, older furniture
Signs of Infestation Hollow sounds, frass, visible mud tubes
Prevention Regular inspection, moisture control, professional services
Risks Structural damage, potential allergies


Being informed and proactive is your best defence against termites. Should you suspect any activity, engage professionals promptly. Remember, when it comes to termites, it’s not just about protecting your home; it’s about safeguarding the memories and heirlooms embodied in every piece of furniture.



Frequently Asked Questions on Termites and Furniture


Do termites eat furniture?
Yes, termites can and do eat furniture, especially if it’s made of wood which contains the cellulose they feed on.


What types of furniture are most susceptible to termite infestation?
Solid wood furniture, particularly older or antique pieces, are most susceptible due to their untreated and rich cellulose content.


How can I identify a termite infestation in my furniture?
Signs include hollowed-out wood, frass (termite droppings resembling sawdust), soft clicking sounds from the furniture, mud tubes on surfaces, and visible termites.


Is all wooden furniture at risk of termite attack?
While all wooden furniture can be targeted, those made of softer woods like pine, spruce, and cedar are particularly vulnerable.


Are termites in furniture a sign of a larger infestation in the home?
Yes, termites found in furniture could indicate a broader infestation in the home or nearby structures.


How can I protect my furniture from termites?
Regular inspections, keeping furniture dry, using termite-resistant finishes, and storing furniture off the ground can help in prevention.


Do termites prefer old furniture over new ones?
Termites are primarily attracted to the cellulose in wood, but older furniture might be more susceptible if it’s untreated or made from softer wood types.


Are metal or plastic furniture safe from termites?
Yes, termites feed on cellulose, which is found in wood and some plants. Metal and plastic furniture are not at risk.


Can I treat infested furniture to get rid of termites?
While some treatments might help, professional pest control services are often recommended for a thorough eradication.


Do termites pose a health risk when infesting furniture?
Directly, termites do not harm humans. However, some individuals might develop allergies or asthma from termite droppings and mould.


Why are termites in Melbourne particularly attracted to furniture?
Certain areas in Melbourne, like older homes in specific suburbs, might offer moisture-rich environments and untreated wood, making them attractive to termites.


Does insurance cover termite damage to furniture?
It depends on the policy. Many home insurance policies in Australia do not cover termite damage, so it’s crucial to check the specifics of your policy.


What’s the difference between termites and woodworms in furniture?
While both can damage wood, they are different pests. Termites are social insects living in colonies, whereas woodworms are the larvae of beetles that eat wood.


Can I prevent termites in furniture by using specific types of wood?
Using termite-resistant wood or treated timber can reduce the risk, but regular inspection and other preventive measures are also essential.


How often should I inspect my furniture for termites?
For peace of mind, especially in termite-prone areas, inspecting your furniture every 6-12 months or if you notice any signs of damage is a good practice.