Q: Can you recommend something to eradicate wood worms before they transfer to another piece of furniture? The infected piece is a large rectangular table that we made. The homeowner called and I saw the damage. I cannot heat the table to 140 F because the table is so large, so what else can I do?
A: I assume that this is a hardwood table. The only insect that infects very dry hardwoods is the lyctid powder-post beetle. This insect is found only in grainy hardwoods like oak and ash. It prefers wood higher than 8 percent MC; most inside furniture is drier than this. To reproduce and spread to other pieces, you will need a mother and father to meet, for the mother to lay eggs in a grainy hardwood without a finish and for the wood to be wetter than 8 percent MC. This is a rare set of circumstances for most homes and offices.
I am sure that the homeowner will want the existing infestation destroyed, however. I would not give up on heating the table, as that will be the cheapest option. Perhaps you can rent a small trailer and rent a heater that will safely go to 130 F inside the trailer. Your other option is fumigation of the table. However, fumigation is not a do-it-yourself project due to the extremely high risk to human health and to the environment. A licensed, professional pest control company is required. If you do go with fumigation, make sure that you get several bids, as the first bid might be quite a bit higher than the others. Also, do not fumigate the entire home, as the risk of spreading of the insects from one piece of furniture to another is extremely small.
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