Wood Worms

White worms in reclaimed lumber intended for furniture. What to do? April 20, 2011

I am building a kitchen island with reclaimed cottonwood for the panels. On my 7th panel, I ripped it to find live white worms inside. What to do? Will these worms migrate into my client's house? The rest of the island? Should I just scrap the panels? The wood is already milled to size.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor M:
Back in the 70's, I had a customer who made coffee tables out of 8/4 eastern white pine sawn with live edges and the bark still on. One day he got a call from a customer who had to keep vacuuming dust around the coffee table. He made arrangements to go check it out the next day. Later that same day, the woman called freaking out that big fat white worms were all over her rug. Turns out the kiln drying didn't kill the larvae. We had to re-dry the load and segregate all other lumber that had been in the same shed. I would not ship the panels as is. Try to replace the panels or get them up to high temp (real tricky with cottonwood) or fume them with something to kill the bugs.

From contributor G:
"Will these worms migrate into my client's house?"
Possibly. Hard to say without knowing the sort of worm.

The question you should ask is, "Do I want to risk the cost in terms of money and reputation of having to pay to have their house fumigated?" Heat treat the boards. Trash anything with worms sticking out. Sleep well at night.

From contributor A:

Actually had this problem with a piece I had built for our home. It took me months of filling holes and using a paste insecticide to get the new holes to stop. I have not used any suspect wood since then.

From Professor Gene Wengert, Sawing and Drying Forum technical advisor:
Many (most) worms in wood only like wet wood. Further, heating to 130 F in drying will kill worms and their eggs, although the wood can get reinfected after drying. (That is why we always store KD wood away from non-KD or imported woods.)

The powder post beetle (holes are 1/32" to 1/16" in diameter) that we are concerned about in hardwoods in the USA can at times take a year or more to hatch and leave the wood, so sometimes infected wood is used without knowing it.