Southeastern Drywood Termites, Western Drywood Termites and Powderpost or Furniture Drywood Termites are the three most common types of termites that infest homes in the United States. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not live in soil and will build their colonies in dry, sound wood. Drywood termites cause thousands of dollars worth of structural damage in the United States every year. Drywood termites can be easily transported to your home in infested wood, furniture and even picture frames.
Drywood Termite Identification
Southeastern Drywood Termite
The Southeastern Drywood Termite can be found throughout the southeastern states as well as Bermuda and the Bahamas. The swarmer termite (swarmers are male and female reproductives) can be as large as ½ inch long including wings with a faded yellowish or brownish body. Its wings have yellowish brown veins. The soldier termite’s head appears flat from the side with a sloped forehead. The head can range from orange to reddish brown in color. Termite soldiers are responsible for defending the colony.
Western Drywood Termite
The Western Drywood Termite is established in southwestern states, northwest Mexico and certain regions of Florida, including the Naples area. The swarmer is about ½ inch long including wings with a brownish orange head and dark brown abdomen. Its wing veins are almost black. The soldier has a sloped forehead that looks rounded from the side. The soldier’s head can vary from shades of orange to reddish brown.
The Powderpost Termite (also known as the Furniture Termite) got its name from the piles of fecal pellets it leaves behind that looks like sawdust and because it often invades the wood in furniture. Powderpost Termites are found in humid coastal areas such as Florida, Hawaii and along the coast of southern states. The swarmer ranges between ⅜ and 7/16 of an inch long including wings. Its head and body are a muted brown and the wings colorless to a pale yellowish brown with dark veins. The soldier has a stout, blackish plug-shaped head.
Habitat, Diet and Characteristics
Drywood termites can get all the moisture they need from chewing through a regular piece of wood whether it’s a beam in your attic or your kitchen chair. They build large nests for their colonies by chewing tunnels and chambers in wood. These termites start new colonies when they swarm and mate. The colonies are typically first established on areas of exposed wood such as trim, window and door frames and the attic. Drywood termites have shorter legs than subterranean termites which makes them move physically slower. This lack of speed causes drywood termites to take longer when they build their nests and to have much smaller colonies than subterranean termites.
Drywood termites get their moisture and nutrients by chewing along the wood grain. They ingest the cellulose in wood and excrete everything else in tiny fecal pellets.
These social insects live in colonies and are assigned specific duties. Winged male and female swarmers are responsible for reproduction, the sterile soldiers defend the colony and immature adults perform of variety of tasks that include building the nest, finding food and caring for the young. Drywood termites go through a simple transformation process from egg to nymph to adult. Immature adults can grow into swarmers or soldiers depending on what the colony needs. The two termites who mate and begin a colony are the king and queen. A termite queen can live for more than 30 years.
Signs of Drywood Termites in Home
A drywood termite infestation can be difficult to detect. These insects are rarely seen because they have all the resources their colony needs right in their nest. Here are a few key signs that you may have a drywood termite infestation in your home:
Small piles of fecal pellets which are often mistaken as sawdust.
Tiny “kickout holes” in the wood that termites use to discard their fecal pellets. These holes are sometimes blocked with temporary paper-like plugs made by the termites.
“Blisters” on the surface of the wood created by termite galleries built too close to the wood’s surface.
Tubes made of glued fecal pellets that allow the termites to get from one piece of wood to another.
Swarms of winged termites
When to Call a Professional
If you suspect that you might have termites, immediately call a pest management professional to inspect the problem. Termite damage can be extensive without you even knowing it exists. There can even be multiple colonies in your home because swarms will often colonize a new nest close to the original colony.
Cat’s Eye King will thoroughly inspect your home for the source of the colony, creating a diagram of where any termites or evidence of termites have been identified. On a case by case basis, we will use a fumigation treatment on your entire house and/or more localized injections into the wood. Heat, especially in the case of infested furniture, can also be used to eradicate drywood termites. Cat’s Eye King offers a monitoring and maintenance program to prevent and manage your termite problems.