Subterranean termites are common and require direct contact with soil in order to live. Drywood termites do not. Drywood termites are found in coastal areas but can be transported via infected wood to other regions. They can thrive in decaying wood even with very little moisture present.
Some common facts in regard to drywood termites are:
- They need very little moisture and only eat dry wood.
- Typically found in areas close to the coastline.
- The pests leave pellet piles outside tiny holes as they tunnel through the wood.
- Cedar is deadly to the termites.
What is its life cycle?
Once an egg is hatched, it is called termite larvae which can become one of the three types of termites: workers, soldiers or a secondary reproductive termite. This happens as a result of the environmental and pheromone cues of the termite. The larvae molts thrice as it reaches maturity. Larva that has become reproductive alate or secondary reproductive can become king or queen of a new termite colony. They swarm, mostly at night, searching for mates and setting up new colonies. The queen lives longer than the other types of termites. It has a life spanning an average of 25 years while the other types of termites live for around 12 to 24 months.
The Drywood termite is a social insect. Larva that joins the workers caste eat and take care of the colony. The soldiers protect the colony from ants and other threats. The reproductive termites grow wings and move to establish new colonies.
What does it look like?
Drywood termites are more cylindrical and generally larger than their subterranean counterparts. They have shorter legs and move slower that their subterranean counterparts.
A drywood termite is brown in color and has wings that may be gray or clear. Their sizes are different according to their caste. Soldiers are three-eighths of an inch long while the reproductive alate measure about one-half of an inch in length. Apart from the reproductive caste, all others are blind.
They also share in features common to all termites: straight antennae, protruding mouthparts and tarsal claws.
What are signs of having this termite?
Drywood termites build their colonies inside wood so finding these pests can be a streneous experience for one looking combat them. The best way to find them is start by looking for fecal pellets that appear as sawdust which are kicked out of the colony by workers and may accumulate below infestations.
Damage caused by the drywood termites is not easily detected as the damage occurs whe the termites are tunneling to expand their colonies. Damage may be extensive by the time it is being detected. Looking out for red-headed swarming insects with wings may help pin point an infestation. The drywood termites live in the wood they consume and swarm annually once the colony matures.
It is important to re-inspect wood that had been previously infested by drywood termites as they often re-infest the same wood when swarming.
All colonies of drywood termites infest wood and since they seek protection from external predators, all galleries are hidden behind the infested wood surface. Knocking on the wood can help locate hollowed out wood.
Treatment and Control
You can prevent the infestation of wood by Drywood termites by using pressure treated wood or you can declare chemical warfare and use wood that has been surface-treated with chemical preservatives and paint to cover any cracks or holes.
Drilling into the wood and injecting insecticides may help with getting rid of individual colonies as they are found.
Control of drywood is not your typical DIY project. To treat a drywood termite infestation methods such as perimeter sprays and treating the soil around the infested wood that can be used to control subterranean termites cannot work as drywood termites rarely leave the safety of their galleries and may never come into contact with the soil.
For the best results, contact a termite exterminator who may have more experience in dealing with the pests. If the infestation is widespread across the structure, your termite exterminator may recommend to tent and fumigate the whole building. Replacing the infested wood should also be included as part of the recommendations if the case is extreme.