Wicker Furniture and Bugs: How To Keep Pests Away


Wicker Furniture and Bugs

Wicker furniture is popular for patios and pool areas, but it has a major drawback. It’s a pest magnet! Wicker furniture and bugs go together like moths and flames. The cracks and crevices inherent to wicker’s woven fibers are practically pest palaces. 

Keeping spiders, beetles, and mites away can be tricky, but it is possible. Below we discuss why bugs love wicker. Then we go through the steps you can take to keep these unwanted guests out of your furniture! 

So, if you have wicker furniture on your porch or patio, read on. We’ll explain how to keep bugs away. And if you already have them, we’ll tell you how to get rid of them. 

Does Wicker Furniture Attract Bugs? 

Yes, wicker furniture attracts bugs, but not for the reasons you may think. It’s not that wicker sends out pheromones or anything like that. Nor is wicker a food source for most bugs. In fact, most wicker furniture today is synthetic; it’s made from plastics like polyethylene.

But even if you invested in a natural rattan furniture set, it’s probably not attracting bugs because of anything inherent to the building material. Rather, wicker’s pest-promoting nature has to do with its construction.  

Many people love the look of wicker because its woven nature adds texture to sleek concrete patios. However, that same woven construction is a haven for spiders and other bugs. 

Cracks and crevices between wicker fibers are perfect for bugs to hide in. They like to make their nests there because it’s hard for predators to find them. And in the case of spiders, wicker provides all sorts of angles perfect for casting a web.  

That’s why wicker furniture of all types attracts pests. It doesn’t matter if your furniture is made of a natural rattan weave or synthetic materials. The fact that it’s woven at all makes it a haven for pests like spiders and beetles. 

Types of Bugs Wicker Attracts

Just about any tiny creature can make their home in your wicker furniture, but there are a few that seem to prefer it more than any other spot in your yard. They include:

  • Spiders
  • Beetles
  • Mites
  • Woodworm
  • Termites
  • Nesting Wasps 

There’s one beetle in particular that you should know about, especially if you own natural wicker furniture. That’s the Bostrichid Powderpost Beetle, and we’ll discuss it in detail below. 

The Bostrichid Powderpost Beetle and Natural Wickers

If you have natural wicker or rattan furniture, the Bostrichid Powderpost Beetle is enemy number one. These beetles have a thing for tropical plants like bamboo or rattan, which most natural or organic wicker furniture is made from.  

Bamboo and rattan are both high in moisture and starch. It’s these qualities that make them the perfect feeding and nesting grounds for Bostrichid Powderpost Beetles. 

Female powderpost beetles burrow tiny holes, an 1/8th to ¼ inch in diameter, into tropical woods to create nests. Unlike other powderpost beetles or termites, Bostrichid beetles don’t leave behind wood powder at first. However, once the larvae hatch, they’ll begin to feed, and at that point, you’ll see wood powder packed at the nests’ entry points. 

The powder Bostrichid Beetles create is mealy and tends to stay tightly packed together, so you might not see it surrounding the furniture, as you could with termites or other wood-eating pests. This means, of course, that these beetles are easy to miss. 

Often, Bostrichid Powderpost Beetles infest furniture before manufacturers import it into the U.S., and once they’re inside natural wicker chairs or benches, it’s nearly impossible to get them out! An insecticide may help, as can below freezing temperatures. Some natural wicker furniture owners resort to putting their chairs in walk-in freezers overnight! 

Those methods may prove successful, but it’s best to avoid infestations of this particular pest altogether. If you’re going to buy natural wicker furniture made from rattan or bamboo, you should make sure it has a sealant on it. And keep it away from moisture as much as possible. 

In high humidity environments, that can be difficult, but if you can keep natural fibers perfectly dry, any beetles that make (or have made) their way inside won’t have a water source. Otherwise, if you see signs of Bostrichid Beetles, it might be time for new furniture, and in all likelihood, a visit from your local pest terminator. 

Signs of A Bug Infestation

Unlike Bostrichid Powderpost Beetles, most other pests leave obvious signs of infestation. If you see any of the following on or around your furniture, you’ll want to take steps to get rid of pests before you take a seat. Otherwise, you may find your lap becomes home to some very unwanted company. 

Look out for: 

  • Webs 
  • Spider egg sacs (white or yellow silk covered balls about the size of a spider)
  • Clumps of dirt or mud
  • Leaves or other yard debris
  • White or brown specks (these are bug droppings!) 
  • Unidentifiable Stains
  • Streak marks 

Keeping Pests Away From Wicker Furniture 

Keeping pests away from wicker furniture begins with keeping furniture clean. Cleaning furniture should get rid of the most common pests if you do it correctly. The exceptions are termites or beetles like the Bostrichid Beetles that burrow into the actual wood. If you see signs of that, you may need the help of a professional exterminator and new furniture. 

We should also note that if you see wasps or bees and have any reason to think they’ve nested in your furniture, you should call a wasp removal service right away. Don’t attempt to clean the furniture; you’ll only put the stinging insects on the defensive. Wasps and bees that feel threatened are not something to mess around with! 

Cleaning Wicker Furniture: Step-By-Step

Resin or synthetic wicker and natural rattan look similar but require very different care. So, below, we go through cleaning each type step-by-step. 

Cleaning Synthetic or Resin Wicker

To clean resin wicker or synthetic wicker, you’ll need the following:

  • Soft bristle brush (a toothbrush works well!)
  • Laundry detergent or mild dish soap (avoid bleach or harsh chemicals)
  • A bucket filled with warm water
  • Garden hose 
  • Sponge
  • Towel 

You may also want: 

  • A hand vacuum
  • Goo Gone (If you notice sap or other sticky substances) 
  • Spray attachment for hose 

Once you have all your supplies, pick a sunny day, throw on your favorite music, and head outside to start cleaning! 

Step One: Start by removing any cushions on your furniture. If possible, remove the cushion from the cover and set it someplace sunny and dry. Then, use your bristle brush to remove any dirt from the cushion covers. If you have a vacuum handy, you can use it on the cushion covers as well. 

Step Two: After you remove as much dirt as you can from the cushions or cushion covers, add a few tablespoons of soap or detergent to your bucket of warm water. Then, dip your sponge in the soapy solution and use it to wipe the cushion covers down thoroughly. 

Step Three: Hang the cushion covers, or place the cleaned cushions in a sunny spot to dry. Drying typically takes about an hour in direct sunlight. 

Step Four: Now that the cushions are clean and free of any pests, it’s time to move on to the furniture itself. Resin wicker stands up to water, so you can soak it entirely. Use your hose with the spray attachment if you have one, and wet down everything. 

Make sure you invert the furniture and get underneath as well. Spiders and bugs like to hide beneath furniture where it’s cool. 

Step Five: Grab your bucket of warm soapy water and sponge again, and rub it along all the furniture’s surfaces. 

Step Six: Then, grab your soft bristle brush or toothbrush and start scrubbing. This part takes some time, but the more thorough you are, the less likely pests will survive. The goal is to scour every nook and cranny, removing dirt and insect eggs as you go. 

Step Seven: Spray the furniture one more time with your hose to remove the soap. If you have any sticky spots from tree sap or the like, something like Goo Gone works well. Just make sure you spray the furniture down again after using it. Leaving grime-removal products on resin wicker too long can lead to fading and bleach marks. 

Step Eight: Use a towel to wipe down excess moisture, and then leave the furniture without cushions to dry in the sun for about two hours. After that, you can replace the cushions and enjoy your pest-free furniture! 

Cleaning Natural Wicker 

Cleaning resin wicker is pretty straightforward because resin doesn’t have issues with absorbing moisture. Unfortunately, natural wicker, like rattan, is super absorbent. So, you have to take a few precautions while cleaning it. 

The number one rule for cleaning natural wicker is to do it in sections. Don’t try to do all your furniture, or even an entire piece at once. Instead, follow the steps below for one small area at a time, like the back of a chair or the arms. That will ensure your wicker furniture dries completely. Otherwise, it could warp or bow, making it unusable. 

Make sure it’s a sunny day before you continue, as well. Sunshine will help dry out the wicker faster, which is ideal.  

Before you begin, make sure you have the following supplies on hand: 

  • Handheld vacuum cleaner or shop vacuum 
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Bucket filled with warm water
  • Mild detergent or dish soap 
  • 2 Soft cloths 
  • Towel(s)

Step One: Start by removing the cushions from the furniture. If you can, take the cushion out of the cover and put it someplace sunny and dry. Then you can use your vacuum on the cushion covers. 

Step Two: Next, use your vacuum on the wicker itself. This should pick up most of the dust and any debris or spiderwebs. 

Step Three: Mix a few tablespoons of soap or a mild detergent with the warm water in your bucket. Dip your soft cloth in the soapy water, ring it out, and then use it to wipe down the furniture in sections.  

Ringing out the cloth is essential because you want to use as little water as possible. Too much water makes it hard for wicker furniture to dry back out, and the soap can loosen the glue in the furniture joints. 

Step Four: Use a soft-bristled brush to lightly scrub the dampened section of the furniture. The brush will help remove any pests or pest eggs hiding in the nooks behind the wicker fibers. 

Step Five: Dampen the second soft cloth with clean water, then use it to wipe off any soap in the freshly cleaned section of furniture. 

Step Six: Use your towel to dry the just-cleaned area as much as possible. Then, move on to the next section of furniture and repeat steps three through six. Don’t forget to invert the furniture and clean beneath it too! 

Long Term Solutions For Keeping Patio Furniture Pest Free

Regularly cleaning your furniture should keep most pests away, but there are a few other steps you can take to discourage spiders and other creepy crawlies from nesting in your wicker chairs. Here’s a few of them. 

Essential Oil Sprays

There are certain oils that spiders and pests can’t stand. Peppermint and tea tree oils are two of them. Making a spray from oils like this won’t harm your furniture or pets, but it will deter pests. 

To do so, place five drops of peppermint or tea tree oil in a 16 oz spray bottle, add a shot of mild dish soap, and fill the rest with water. Shake the bottle to combine everything, and then spray it all over your patio. As a bonus, you can spray it near your doors which will keep spiders out of your home. 

Water and Vinegar

We like using essential oils to deter pests because they smell good, but water and vinegar work well too. Vinegar, despite its strong scent and flavor, is safe to use around pets and people, but spiders and bugs can’t stand it. 

To use it, mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water in a spray bottle, then add a dash of mild dish soap. Shake everything up, and spray it all over your patio. 

Lighting

Spiders and many other pests are attracted to light. So, if you have patio lights, consider keeping them off whenever you’re not outside. You can also try switching their hue. Warm-colored lighting isn’t as attractive to bugs. They like cooler, bluish tones. So, changing your lightbulb could make your patio and your furniture less enticing.  

Citronella Candles

Many know that citronella candles are excellent at repelling mosquitoes, but they do more than that! Spiders and many other insects hate the scent of citronella. So, keep a citronella candle burning while you sit outside. It’ll help deter pests from making their nest anywhere nearby. 

Ponds 

This won’t work for everyone, but some homeowners choose to get rid of pests by introducing habitats that invite predators. Having a small pond in your yard attracts birds and lizards. Birds and lizards like to eat spiders, beetles, and other bugs. Plus, it’s sort of cool to have a pond in your yard!

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve covered a lot about bugs and wicker furniture, but there are a few questions you might still have. Let’s see if we can answer them. 

Can Bed Bugs Live in Wicker Furniture? 

Yes, if you have a bed bug infestation in your house, they can and will nest in your natural wicker furniture. Unfortunately, they’re nearly impossible to get rid of once they infest an area. If you see dark red stains and discarded bed bug skin, no amount of cleaning or deterrents will get rid of the infestation. At that point, you have to toss your furniture. 

What Attracts Spiders to Patio Furniture? 

Spiders like safe and sheltered areas to construct their webs. Unused patio furniture is ideal because it’s sturdy and provides shelter. Plus, we tend to put lights on our patios. Spiders like to build near light because light attracts their prey. 

Which Is Better For Keeping Out Pests, Synthetic Wicker or Rattan? 

Pests can infest either synthetic or organic wicker materials. It’s the construction of the weave that makes wicker so attractive to bugs. However, certain bugs like termites and powderpost beetles will only be a problem with organic wicker or rattan. Synthetic wicker is also easier to keep clean, making it simpler to keep pests out. 

Final Thoughts 

Wicker furniture looks great on patios and porches, making it a popular choice. Unfortunately, spiders and other critters seem to love wicker as much as we do. 

Bugs and wicker furniture make for a difficult combination! It’s hard to get rid of them once they burrow into the cracks and crevices inherent to wicker weaves. 

But, with careful cleaning, peppermint oil, and maybe a new porch light, you can get rid of spiders and pests and keep them coming back! 

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