The organisms potentially responsible for damaging furniture in your home vary depending upon the materials used in its construction. Pests may be after the covering, stuffing or wood frame of your couch. The damage-causing organisms you seek may be your own beloved companion animals, common household pests or the larvae of insects you will rarely see.
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Your pet cat or dog may shred or chew your couch and try to tear out its stuffing. Cats may sharpen their claws on vertical portions of the couch or cause puncture damage with the pointy tips of their claws. Pets may chew furniture or cause other damage out of boredom or frustration.
You can use protective coverings to prevent access to some parts of your couch, but it may be more effective to consider limiting your pets' access to the room when you are not present to monitor their behaviour. Offer other toys to engage them and ensure your pet receives exercise and interaction to reduce boredom and negative behaviours.
Mice and rats may enter your couch seeking food debris or shelter. The damage from rodents may be more difficult to detect than that caused by pets; rodents may cause limited chewing damage to the exterior surfaces of your couch, but cause far greater damage inside, where you can't readily see.
Rodents may gain access to the interior of your couch by chewing their way in from underneath or from a side of the couch that faces a wall, so you may not notice their entry hole. You may hear chewing or scratching sounds and see or smell rodent urine and droppings as signs of their presence. Several types of traps and poisonous baits are available for treatment of rodent infestations.
Damage by clothes moths is not limited to items of clothing. The larvae of these insects feed on materials ranging from wool to leather. Any animal-based material is at risk. Even if your couch is not made of an animal-based material, food stains, body oils, coats or lap blankets stored on or near your furniture may attract the moth larvae. The larvae also feed on pet hair, so if your family pet is welcome on your furniture, his presence may contribute to the problem.
One of the first remedies is to clean the area. Vacuum up dust, pet hair and dander within and around the couch. Clean the surfaces of your couch following the manufacturer's instructions for the couch's material. Cleaning will remove larvae and eggs, and the newly cleaned surfaces will be less attractive to future generations.
Carpet beetle larvae also feed on materials made from animals. They will eat dust, lint and dried human foods such as flour and cereal. As with clothes moths, cleaning is a good first step in treatment and prevention of an infestation. The University of Minnesota Extension recommends either fumigating affected furnishings or placing your couch outdoors if the temperature falls below -17.8 degrees Celsius as options for severe infestations. Leaving the couch outside for 48 hours under such conditions should kill the insects.
If your couch has a wooden frame, it is vulnerable to damage from powderpost beetles. Anobiid powderpost beetles attack softwoods, while lyctid powderpost beetles attack hardwoods. The beetles may spread into other items in your home or the structure of your home itself. Watch for holes in the wood, piles of sawdust and cigar-shaped frass or excrement.
To treat an infestation, ventilate and dehumidify the room, as the beetles prefer moist locations. Seal any holes and finish your wood surfaces to deter further infestation. The University of Florida IFAS Extension suggests you simply fumigate the affected couch instead of fumigating your entire house. Insecticide treatments are available, and in extreme cases, you can replace infested wood or discard the couch.
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- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture/UK Entomology; Clothes Moths; Mike Potter; October 2001
- University of Minnesota Extension; Carpet Beetles and Clothes Moths; Jeffrey D. Hahn, et al.; 2008
- PetPlace.com; Furniture Scratching; Dr. Nicholas Dodman
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Rat and Mouse Control; P. G. Koehler, et al.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Carpet Beetles; P. G. Koehler, et al.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Powderpost Beetles and Other Wood-Infesting Insects; P. G. Koehler, et al.