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Powder Post Termites are relatives of drywood termites and are found along the eastern seaboard from Virginia to Florida to Lousiana with unconfirmed reports along the pacific coast in Northern California. They are also found in Hawaii.
Powderpost termite alate (top)
Powderpost termite soldier (bottom)
Size - 7/16 inch up to 3/8 inch long
Powder Post Termites Cryptotermes brevis or the West Indian powderpost termite, (not to be confused with powder post beetles) can be controlled by direct wood treatment or by fumigation, as described for drywood termites.
When drywood or powderpost termites are infesting furniture, insecticides can be injected into their galleries or the furniture can be fumigated. Some professionals control these termites in furniture by using a hypodermic syringe to inject materials such as insectidical dusts into their galleries. This method has the advantage of getting the insecticide inside the wood without making disfiguring holes on the surface of the furniture.
There are a number of measures that should be considered for prevention of drywood termite infestation. All lumber, especially secondhand lumber, should be carefully inspected for evidence of infestation before being used for construction purposes. Infested lumber should be destroyed. Do not use moist or moisture-damaged wood. In existing buildings, all doors, windows (especially attic windows) and other ventilation openings should be screened with 20-mesh non-corrodible metal wire cloth. Screening will prevent the entrance of winged termites into areas where colonies can be established. Chemically treated wood will also prevent attack. Lumber treated with wood preservatives such as Timbor is also effective. Termite-resistant woods such as cedar, bois d' ark and redwood can also be used.
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.
When extensive infestations of powder post 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 mammels. This is the reason that fumigations can only be performed by licensed fumigators.
Vikane need only kill the adult powder post 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 powder post 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 powder post 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 powder post 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.
Powder Post 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.
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 Powder Post 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.
When treating limited localized infestations, aerosol's such as Invader HPX and dust formulations such as Timborand TriDie are used most often. Invader HPX, D-Foam and Premise Gel can all be applied directly into the powder post 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™.
Powderpost termites infesting furniture can be killed by holding the furniture for 1-1/2 hours in a chamber heated to 150°F, or for four hours in a chamber heated to 140°F. Kilns or special vaults equipped with heating units are used for this purpose. Cold may also be used to control these termites. In northern climates, infested furniture and crates may be moved outdoors, while refrigeration chambers can be used in warmer areas. Exposure at a temperature of 15°F for four days will kill termites in wood. Care must be taken to determine that cold or heat will not damage the item involved.
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