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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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There are two major groups that make up a Formosan termite colony which include the soldier termites and the swarming termites. They can be identified by their different physical characteristics.
The soldier termites possess mandibles at the end of their heads. Also, their heads are slightly rounded on the sides and look like they taper or become narrower towards the front of their heads where their mandibles are located. Like other soldier termites in other species of termite populations, the heads of the soldier termites are wider than their pronotums. Their pronotums are not only narrower than their heads but they are also flat in shape.
Swarming Formosan termites are easier to identify. They possess wings that are about half an inch long and their bodies are a pale yellow to a brown yellow color. Their 2 front wings are dark in color and are heavily veined but the other wings are more translucent or a more creamy color.
Much of the damage that is done by Formosan termites is going to be very similar to the damage that is done by the standard subterranean termite colony. This is because the Formosan termite species is a representative group of the overall subterranean termite group. Damage can be noted by the infested wood appearing layered with soil that is gathered inside the galleries and tunnels. The only major differences are that damage will happen at a much faster rate than the damage that is caused by the standard subterranean termite species and also the carton constructions in the infested wood.
Something that is unique in comparison to standard subterranean termite colonies is that Formosan termites are able to create secondary nests that are located above the ground if there is a constant moisture source available. These types of secondary nests are called cartons which are made from soil and wood that are cemented together with feces and termite saliva. These cartons cause the walls to bulge out which will ultimately ruin the aesthetics of the structure and cause severe structural damage. Although these nests are more often found linked to a Formosan termite infestation, they are not commonplace and will happen rarely.
They are not called “super termites” for just any odd reason. Usually, termite colonies may take up to several years to create significant damage to structures. However, keep in mind that a mature and well developed Formosan termite colony can cause serious structural damage in a time span that is as short as 3 months. This is why it is important to begin a control program immediately after the species of termites are identified.
Because Formosan termites will initially create colonies underground, a ground treatment is crucial for Formosan termite control. In order to gain a complete control, a homeowner must remove all wood – to – soil materials and all wood debris should be eliminated. Usually a monitoring and baiting system will be placed underground. The stations are placed every ten feet around the perimeter of the house and are placed between the termite colony and the structure that is being attacked. Also, the wood moisture should be reduced all the way down to 20%. Often times, a liquid termiticide will be used in conjunction with the stations. By using a liquid termiticide, an underground barrier is created that soaks through the ground where their colonies are located.
To eliminate nests that are formed above the ground, the moisture content in the wood must be dramatically reduced. By drying out the wood, they are unable to survive in the aerial nests and are forced to retreat to their underground colonies. There are also termiticides that come in a foaming application that can be used for spot treatment directly on the infested wood. Also, although cartons should be removed, there is no real way to detect immature and small cartons. Sometimes, fumigation will be necessary to totally eliminate small cartons before they get too large to fit the walls.
All termiticides and baiting chemicals have product labels and material safety data sheets available. Please refer to the product label before any pesticide is applied.