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Drywood termites generally live, feed and nest in undecayed wood which has a very low moisture content. Unlike subterranean termites, they do not require any contact with the soil in order to live. Thus, they can seriously damage movable wooden objects such as furniture. In the United States, drywood termites are found in a narrow strip from Virginia, south to Florida, along the Gulf of Mexico and from Mexico to northern California on the Pacific coast.
A male and female pair work their way into the wood chosen for the nest. The opening through which they enter the wood is sealed with a plug of brown cement-like material about 1/8-inch in diameter. Behind this plug they excavate a chamber where the queen lays the first eggs. The nymphs which hatch from these eggs perform the work of the
colony. Soldiers and reproductives develop from these nymphs. There is no distinct worker caste as in subterranean termites.
During the swarming season, nymphs make round holes 1/16- to 1/8-inch in diameter through which the reproductive forms leave the wood. When swarming is completed, these holes are plugged in the same way as the entrance holes. Damage done by drywood termites is entirely different from that caused by subterranean termites. These termites cut across the grain of the wood, excavating large chambers which are connected by small tunnels.
The chambers and tunnels being used by the colony are kept clean. Excreta and other debris are stored in unused chambers or cast out through small openings in the wood.
Drywood termite fecel pellets. Also known as frass. Fecel pellets have a unique 6 sided concave appearance with rounded ends and are appromimately 1/8 inches long.
Drywood Termite excretal pellets (frass) are a distinguishing characteristic of non-subterranean termites. These pellets are hard and have six distinct concave surfaces on the sides; only the ends are rounded. Certain anobiid (powder post) beetles also eject pellets from wood in which they feed. These pellets can easily be distinguished from those of drywood termites because they have rounded, convex surfaces.
Entrance into wood is usually made from a crack or crevice which the termites can enter before boring into the wood. This may be a crack in the wood itself or may be the joint between two pieces of wood or even the space underneath roofing or sheathing paper.
Because of their ability to live in wood without soil contact, drywood termites are frequently carried in infested furniture and other wooden objects into geographical areas where they are not normally found. For this reason, you should be aware of their habits so as to recognize them when they appear.
Drywood termites may attack wood products of all kinds. Structural timbers and woodwork in buildings, as well as furniture and other wooden objects, may be damaged. Although serious damage is done to buildings and other wood products in some areas of the U.S., these termites are usually less injurious than subterranean termites simply because they are less widespread. In fact while a typical subterranean termite colony can contain more than 500,000 termites, a typical drywood termite colony only contains about 10,000.
The dark western drywood termite, Incisitermes minor (Hagen), is the most destructive drywood termite in this country. It is found from California east to Arizona and Utah. In this area, it causes extensive damage to structures as well as to wooden derricks, piled lumber, furniture and telephone poles. It may infest any dry wooden portions of a structure from the foundation to the roof.
Drywood termite swarmers.
Unlike the subterranean termite which lives in the ground, drywood termites do not need soil moisture. Instead, they excavate their nest and live directly inside the wood. They infest dry wood such as siding, eaves, cornices, and walls. They can also infest furniture and interior wood work..
Size - 7/16 inches up to 1/2 long
Small swarming flights of drywood termites occur during April through July, frequently after rains. Winged adults are dark brown and about 1/2-inch long. The white, soft-bodied workers and nymphs remain in the galleries and are not seen unless the wood is broken open.
The light western drywood termite, Marginitermes hubbardi, is found from California to Arizona. It is also referred to as the southern drywood termite. This termite is very similar in habits to the western drywood termite but prefers drier conditions and higher temperatures.
Three species of drywood termites are most often found in the southeastern part of the U.S. The light southeastern drywood termite, Incisitermes snyderi (Light), is found from South Carolina to Florida and west to Texas. It is the most injurious species of drywood termite in that area. A second drywood termite, IIncisitermes schwartzi (Banks), is a common species in southern Florida occurring as far north as Pensacola. Thirdly, the dark southeastern drywood termite, Kalotermes approximatus (Snyder), occurs along the Gulf Coast west to New Orleans and on the Atlantic Coast north to southern Virginia. It attacks wood in structures, posts and utility poles.
Treatment for control of drywood termites consists of (1) structural fumigation, or (2) localized or spot wood treatment. The localized or spot wood treatment treatment method should only be used in the case of limited infestations. If you are interested in doing it yourself you may want to check out our
Do-It-Yourself Drywood Termite Spot Treatment Kit.
Fumigation involves wrapping the structure in gas tight tarps and releasing a fumigant such as "Vikane" inside. The entire process takes about 2 days and is usually 100% effective in killing all pests withing the structure.
When extensive infestations of drywood termites are found, treatment should be performed by fumigation. Fumigation is done with sulfuryl fluoride (Vikane) or methyl bromide (bromo-gas) gas. When performing a fumigation, The entire building is covered tightly with a fumigation cover (tarps) and the gas is introduced. Fumigations are effective because the gases penetrate the structure and completely consume all the oxygen replacing it with the deadly gas. When the insects respire or breathe, the gas is quickly absorbed resulting in almost immediate death. Fumigation of structures with fumigants almost always results in 100% elimination of all insects and mammals. This is the reason that fumigations can only be performed by licensed fumigators.
Vikane need only kill the adult drywood termites to be completely effective. The immature termites and eggs cannot survive without the care of the adults. This is not the case with powder post beetle control in which the eggs can hatch and begin their lifecycle on their own. This is the reason that most drywood termite fumigations are performed with very low amounts of Vikane - the termite eggs do not have to be killed - and powder post beetles are fumigated with amounts up to 10 times or 10X the amount required for drywood termites.Powder post beetle eggs have to be killed in order to control the infestation.
Vikane also has the advantage of rapid and uniform dispersion within the within structures where drywood termites are found. Such fumigations should be done only by professionals thoroughly trained in the use of gasses. Both Methyl Bromide and Vikane are restricted use products and cannot be purchased without a Certified Structural Fumigator license - in all 50 States.
In the Los Angeles, California area call Global Termite Solutions at 1-800-253-8870 or visit the website at www.globaltermitesolutions.com.
Drywood termites are not always a widespread structural problem. Sometimes the infestations are very small and localized and can be treated with spot or localized wood treatments, foams and dusts. In order to effectively use a liquid, aerosol or dust formulation, holes are drilled into the infested timbers through the termite galleries or kickout holes, using a 3/16 inch drill bit. Insecticide is then forced through these holes to be dispersed through the galleries.
When treating limited localized infestations, aerosol's such as
Termidor Foam, Termidor Dry,
Premise Foam and Alpine Foam as well as dust formulations such as
TriDie are recommended. These products require drilling small holes into the infested wood, preferably directly into the drywood termite galleries and applications being made into these areas.
Invader and D-Foam can all be applied directly into the drywood termite kickout holes. Holes can also be drilled every few inches directly into the termite galleries and these products injected directly into the galleries. After an insecticide has been injected into wood, the openings should be plugged with wooden dowels or at the very least sealed with Dap™.
Silica gel such as TriDie is an example of a dust that is used. Dusts should be injected into the termite galleries in small amounts. Too much dust will plug the galleries, and the termites will wall off and isolate these areas. Bora Care is another good alternative treatment in Drywood termite control. If the wood is bare and has not been stained or sealed, an application of Bora Care will penetrate the wood and kill the termites. Bora Care will also leave a residual that will last for the life of the wood. In cases where the wood is sealed or stained, it may be necessary to sand and remove the finish to allow the Bora Care to penetrate the wood. In all cases, Stain, paint or varnish can then be applied over the top of the Bora Care for weathering protection.
In Los Angeles and Orange County California, Americana Termite Company offers a cost effective fumigation alternative with XT-2000, an organic termite treatment, known commonly as orange oil.
(1) 1.5 Lb Timbor Professional
(1) 17 oz Invader Aerosol Residual
(1) Puffer Hand Duster
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