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Drywood termites are a species of termites that are given their common name because of the area that they infest. Unlike subterranean termites that nest underground and must have contact with soil, drywood termites actually directly attack dry wood and create tunnels and chambers in the wood without requiring contact with soil. Because they do not need to make contact with the soil in order to survive, these species of termites will often times make it indoors from catching a ride on already infested furniture or other infested wood materials. This is also the reason why they will most likely be the species of termites that are infesting your indoor furniture and will not usually be the subterranean termite species.
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Termites live in a very social community that is made up with a system of different “worker” termites. The caste system in a drywood termite colony is made up of swarmers, workers, and soldiers. Worker drywood termites make up most of the colony, soldier drywood termites protect the colony, and swarmer drywood termites are responsible for reproduction. They all have a very similar appearance and will be differentiated by minute, but unique, physical characteristics. For instance, worker drywood termites do not have wings and are a creamy white color. However, swarming drywood termites do possess wings that actually extend out to a length that is the twice the size of their bodies. Also, they are dark brown to almost black in color which is different from both the workers and the soldiers. Soldiers do not possess many different characteristics from worker termites, but they do have a slightly different shape. Their heads are large in proportion to their bodies and also possess mandibles. These minute details will help you identify the different workers in a drywood termite colony.
Differentiating them from the most common species of termites, which are the subterranean termites, may be a little bit more difficult since subterranean termites live in similar colonies that have the caste system. Generally, drywood termites are larger than subterranean termites and will grow up to a ½ inch longer than subterranean termites. Also, the location of where they are infesting may also help identify drywood termites from subterranean termites.
Drywood termites are given their names because of where they nest. They establish their colonies all above the ground and do not require contact with soil to survive. Unlike dampwood termites that nest above ground, drywood termites infest wood that is dry and does not seem to be rotting. Also, drywood termite colonies are very small compared to huge subterranean termite colonies. They may only begin with just 50 workers and will gradually increase in size over a long period of time – about 3,000 workers over a 15 year time span.
Like all other species of termites, all drywood termite damage will be in the wood. Drywood termites eat the wood they infest as well as other cellulose materials inside the house and structure like wood furniture and fixtures. They also infest dying trees and dry utility poles. Because they eat the wood that they infest, over time, homeowners and business owners may find some severe structural damage. However, due to their small size in numbers, damage by drywood termites will take much longer than damage by subterranean termites.
The most important part of drywood termite control is to inspection. You must be able to locate the infested area and the areas that are vulnerable to drywood termite problems by looking for signs of infestation which includes piles of fecal pellets outside of the wood galleries, fallen wings that have been shed by the swarmers, ejected wood pellets and finally, try to locate the actually galleries and tunnels inside the wood. It is also important to inspect wooden materials that are purchased before they are brought inside the house because this is one of the most common ways a drywood termite colony will enter a home or structure.
There are several different ways you can treat for drywood termites which will really depend on how large the infestation and where the infestation is located. Many people will choose to do spot treatments with an appropriately labeled termiticide if there is a structural infestation. Spot treatments are done by drilling holes directly into the infested wood and injecting the chemical into the galleries. Others may only have pieces of furniture that is infested and will only require direct wood or furniture treatments. Wood insecticides and preservatives will be able to kill the drywood termite infestation in pieces of furniture. If the furniture is finished or varnished, it must be sanded down or stripped free so that the wood is bare. Wood preservatives and wood insecticides can then be injected into the wood or painted on and left alone to soak through the wood. It can also be sprayed on and left alone so that it will penetrate through the wood.
Keep in mind that all termiticides, wood insecticides, and wood preservatives have directions for application on the product label. It is a violation of the law if these chemicals are used in any other way than labeled and so please refer to the product label before any pesticide is applied. If there are any questions on the behavior of drywood termites or what products will be the most effective against the infestation that you are experiencing, then feel free to give us a call at 1-800-788-4142 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.