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Drywood termite facts


Characteristics of drywood termites

Soldiers have a forehead that slopes down gradually from the top of the head. In a side view, it looks flattened to slightly rounded. Antennae have a third segment that is enlarged and clublike. The pronotum (top body plate) is as wide or wider than the head when viewed from above.

Drywood termite color

A swarmer's head and pronotum is orange brown and the abdomen is dark brown. Wings are smoky and the membrane and pigmented veins are blackish. A soldier's head is orange to reddish-brown, with a whitish eye spot.

Drywood termite droppings

Some fancy poop. Hard, oval-shaped pellets with rounded ends, and 6 concave sides. But at less than 1/32 inch (1mm) long, that may be hard to tell.

Where do you find drywood termites?

Southwest U.S. and northwest Mexico. They can also be found in Florida, and outside these areas via infested furniture and picture frames being transported.

Drywood termite habitat

Just as dampwood termites like damp wood, drywood termites like – what else? – dry wood. Moisture content 12% and under.

What do drywood termites eat?

Home and food are one in the same – wood.

Drywood termite biology

Unlike other termites, drywood termites don't have anything to do with dirt. Instead, they are homebodies, setting up house in wood. As there is no worker division, immatures and nymphs get stuck with all the work. 

Drywood termites swarm and then find cracks or knotholes in wood with potential for a cool pad. They start by gnawing a small tunnel, then close it, excavate a chamber, and mate. Yet they may stay dormant for nearly a year and work on their relationship instead. Or, they can lay up to 5 eggs, 20 nymphs and 1 soldier. 

By the end of the second year the colony may have grown to 6-40 nymphs and 1 soldier; by the third year there may be 40-165 individuals, and by the fourth year the population explodes to 70-700. By this time, swarmers may have developed. They swarm in dozens or sometimes even hundreds – not a welcome sight. Swarming typically occurs in September – November on a bright day in warm, sunny weather (80 degrees F), peaking after a sudden temperature increase.

In Arizona, they swarm on July nights. Swarmers, like most bugs, are attracted to light.

Drywood termite damage

In buildings, they damage interior structures.

Drywood termite infestations

Ironically, we are to blame for helping drywood termites invade our own homes. They are distributed by human activity, as in the shipping of infested furniture, picture frames, and lumber. 

Drywood termite swarmers directly fly into wood, and are likely to target exposed places such as doors, window frames, eaves, attics, molding, or where shingles and paper overhang wood. They then look for a protected joint or crevice. 

Apparently, drywood termites are either creatures of habit or forgetful, as they often re-infest the exact same place when swarming.

Drywood termite options

In the case of wood destroying pests, a registered company and state-licensed inspector will need to inspect the structure to find and identify conditions. A written report will be issued, which must list findings and appropriate recommendations as per the rules and regulations established by the regulatory agencies in the various states. 

Consult with your local office for the requirements that affect your structure.

Evidence of this termite is small 'pellets' or possible red-headed swarming, winged insects which may leave their wings behind on various surfaces. This termite lives in the wood it consumes, and swarms annually. Regular inspections are important to identify infestations. 

There are various control methods, including fumigation, heat treatment, or local treatment with residual materials. The proper method of control depends on where the evidence of the infestation is located. Recommendations for replacement of damaged wood should also include recommendations for correction of the conditions that created the problem.

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