Drywood termites typically are found in the southern and western states, although they can be transported in furniture to other parts of the U.S. Drywood termites do not require soil contact or aboveground moisture sources to survive. They live wholly within the material on which they feed, including dead trees, structural timbers, hardwood floors and pieces of furniture.
Generally speaking, drywood termites are larger than subterranean termites. Drywood termites do not have a worker caste, which means they rely on nymphs (immature reproductives) to perform the typical worker tasks.
The most destructive drywood termites in the U.S. include the western drywood termite (Incisitermes minor) and the tropical rough-headed drywood termite (Cryptotermes brevis).
Drywood Termite Colonies
Drywood termite colonies tend to be much smaller than subterranean termite colonies. The largest mature drywood termite colonies typically have no more than 5,000 termites.
Due to the smaller colony size, a drywood termite swarm is smaller than a subterranean termite swarm. Many drywood colonies produce less than 60 swarming alates in a season.
Signs of Drywood Termite Infestation
Swarms are often the most noticeable sign of any termite infestation. However, drywood termite swarms can be so small that they may be overlooked. Other warning signs for drywood termite activity include groups of discarded same-size wings and small mounds of fecal pellets (frass).
Drywood Termite Control
Small, localized drywood termite infestations in a home can be treated by a pest expert who will apply termiticide directly to the wood where the termites live. Fumigation and heat treatment are options when the drywood termites are located in an inaccessible area, the infestation involves multiple colonies or large nests, or the exact location of the nest is difficult to determine.
Other less common methods to control drywood termites include extreme cold and electronic methods. Depending on the size, scope and location of an infestation, these methods may be viable for infestations in structural wood or furniture.
Both protective wood treatment and regular home maintenance can help reduce the likelihood of a drywood termite infestation. By reducing the amount of wood materials near the home, using bug screens on attic and foundation vents, and keeping exterior walls in good condition, you can help reduce termite habitats and entry points into your home.