- Reproductives or Swarmers
Homeowners see the reproductive or swarmer termite flying around during the Spring/Summer mating season. Their most noticeable features are their 4 iridescent wings, which are longer than their body. The head is also dark orange-brown and the rest of the body is dark brown. Their size can vary between 11-12.5 mm, which includes the wings.
- Workers (Nymph)
Worker termites are rarely seen. Their bodies are pale and almost white colored. Their head is round and their antennae are straight.
The soldiers have large heads with sizeable black mandibles or pinchers, which are used for defending the colony. Their head is dark reddish-brown and the rest of their body is light yellow to orange. The soldier termite can vary in length between 8-12 mm long.
Habitat and Biology
Drywood termites are extremely prevalent in Florida. They can be found in just about every town or city in the sunshine state. They are difficult to detect because they live deep within the wood. They do not need contact with soil, which means they can endure very hot temperatures and consume very little water. Drywood termites commonly infest in dead tree stumps, branches, logs and even living trees. When introduced into urban environments, drywood termites will infest homes, businesses, barns and woodpiles. Drywood termites can squeeze through 1/32 inch and commonly enter homes through the roof and then into the attic. Once drywood termites are established in a home, they will carve out galleries and eject their feces out of small holes. Their feces or “frass” will pile up and resemble coffee or sand. The color will vary with the type of wood consumed.
In nature, drywood termites play a major role in decomposing dead wood which accumulates in forests. Without termites the world would be overcrowded with dead trees. Drywood termites get their nutrition from the cellulose in wood. Inside their guts are enzymes that allow the termite to break down the wood and absorb it into food.
Drywood termites are eusocial insects meaning they live in colonies with responsibilities such as caring for young, foraging for food, reproducing offspring and defending the colony. The reproductive or “swarmer” termites start flying and mating in May through September each year. In the beginning stage of a new colony, the male and female reproductive termites pair through flight and quickly establish their colony in a suitable piece of wood. The female or queen will lay her eggs, which will hatch into workers and can develop into either soldiers or reproductives. Drywood termite colonies are small in size and are slow to develop because of their low reproductive rate. The eggs take months to hatch and the colony will not mature for 5 years or longer. Once the colony has matured, the reproductive termites will grow wings and leave the colony to continue the life cycle of the species.
Drywood Termite Control Treatment and Prevention
- Spot treatment
Spot treatment involves locating the drywod termite colony, drilling holes into the location, and injecting a chemical or termiticide. Unfortunately, spot treatment is rarely successful because locating the entire colony is almost impossible. If 20 or more termites are not killed during the procedure, the colony can rebuild and continue thriving.
- Termite fumigation
Tent fumigation is the only whole home treatment for drywood termites. Tent fumigation provides total colony elimination. The gas used for tent fumigation, sulfuryl flouride, penetrates through walls, ceilings, floors and into wood. In spite of popular belief, fumigation does not leave a chemical residue behind on surfaces. The gas is odorless, colorless and cannot be seen.
Drywood Termite Damage
Termites cause over $5 billion in damage in the United States each year. Drywood termites eat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week therefore structural damage can be quite extensive if given the opportunity. The wood inside a home is damaged as the worker termites tunnel to create more room inside the colony. Drywood termites eat with the grain of the wood, dwindling strength of the internal structure.
Signs of Drywood Termite Infestation
- The first signs of drywood termite infestations are piles of fecal pellets or “frass” that resembles coffee grinds. Drywood termites will create tiny holes in their nest and kick out their fecal pellets, which accumulates into neat piles, such as the sand in an hourglass. Fecal pellets are hard, oval and less than 1/25 inch long. The fecal pellets can vary in color, depending on the type of wood consumed.
Wings or bodies
- Winged reproductives or swarmers will shed their iridescent wings around windowsills, sliding glass doors and skylights. Reproductive termites swarm at night and are attracted to the light omitted from windows. Sometimes the swarmers will perish upon running into glass windows and bodies will develop around windowsills.
- Inside the colony, drywood termites create galleries that are smooth and follow the grain of the wood. Drywood termites will eat up to the surface of the wood and leave a thin layer untouched. Detecting these galleries can be difficult and is usually achieved through poking the wood with a screwdriver.
Cloud Termite and Pest Control has been serving customers and solving termite problems in Sarasota and Manatee counties since 1934. We are the company to call for drywood termite control. For more information, please visit our termite control page.
For a free termite home inspection, please call us today. We will send a termite control expert to give you a termite inspection and a termite inspection report.