Well… it’s official… The Termite Swarm has officially begun here in Houston and its promising to be a doozy! Houston is no stranger to Termites. In fact this year, we are ranking number 13 in the United States for Termite population. That is raise in last year’s standing! Houston is home to three different types of Termites, which makes Termite control that much more important as the season approaches. Those species being, Subterranean, Drywood, and Formosan. In this articles, we’ll discuss in detail Drywood Termites and more importantly, we’ll discuss what we can do to eliminate your DryWood Termite problem WITHOUT THE NEED TO TENT! Keep on reading for more information
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DRYWOOD TERMITES!
What Are DryWood Termites?
Drywood termites are social insects that live in colonies in sound, dry wood. Each colony consists of offspring from an original pair (male and female). There are three growth stages – eggs, immatures and adults. Drywood termites are larger than local, southwestern subterranean species of termites.
In comparison to other termites, drywood colonies are rather small (a few thousand individuals), and the colony develops slowly. They neither live in the ground nor maintain contact with the soil, and they do not build mud tubes.
How Do I Know If I Have Drywood Termites?
Drywood termites produce dry fecal pellets compared to subterranean termites that produce liquid feces. These pellets are eliminated from the galleries through “kick holes”. Pellets tend to accumulate on surfaces located below the kick holes and are usually the first evidence of a drywood termite population.
Drywood termites tend to feed across wood grain impacting both the soft spring wood and the harder summer growth. Subterranean termites typically follow the grain of the wood, feeding primarily on the soft spring wood.
The primary reproductive caste is winged (termed alates or swarmers) but secondary reproductives , wingless males and female, may also occur in the nest, ready to replace the primaries if they die. The primary reproductives vary in body color from dark brown to light yellowish tan, while immatures are white.
In most drywood species there is no true worker caste (subterranean termites do have a true worker cast); this function is taken over by immatures that make up the majority of a colony population. They gather food, enlarge the nest and feed and care for the queen, younger immature forms and others in the colony.
Soldiers resemble immatures, but have large, yellowish- brown heads with robust, heavily armored, toothed mandibles (jaws). Soldiers defend the colony against invaders.
Do Termites Fly?
After a drywood termite colony has matured (several years), alates are produced that leave the nest to establish new colonies. Swarming activity (nuptial flights) generally occurs at dusk or during the night, except the dark western drywood termite is a daytime swarmer. Swarming by most Arizona species occurs in early to late summer.
Environmental conditions, such as heat, light (time of day), rainfall and moisture conditions, wind, atmospheric pressure (especially rapid changes in pressure) and the electrical properties of the atmosphere (associated with thunderstorms) trigger the emergence of alates, and each species has a definite set of conditions under which swarming will occur. The number of alates produced will be proportionate to the age and size of the colony, while environmental conditions regulate the number of swarms emerging from the colony. The bulk of a colony’s alates will be released in one or two synchronized swarms, then a few at a time are released throughout the rest of the season. Swarming constitutes a dispersal stage, rather than a truemating flight.
How Far Can A DryWood Termite Fly?
Male and female alates fly from the colony and travel varying distances. They are extremely weak flyers, but individuals can travel great distances carried by air currents during the summer monsoon season. Any alates that try to return after the flight are usually killed. Often, the soldier castes congregate around colony openings to defend the release of the alates.
What Happens Once The Drywood Termites Stop Swarming?
Only a small number of the swarmers survive to develop colonies. The majority fall prey to birds, toads, reptiles, insects (primarily ants) and other predators. Many others die from dehydration or injury. When a pair alights, they shed or pull off their wings and immediately attempt to enter wood. Swarmers usually enter wood through cracks, natural checks, overlapping or adjoining pieces, or exposed end grain. A very small nest is developed after the pair has mated. Initially the queen lays relatively few eggs. The male, or king, remains with the female, since periodic mating is required for continued egg development.
Immatures hatch within several weeks and are cared for by the king and queen. After two molts, immatures assume the role of workers and begin to feed and care for the original pair. Eggs are not deposited continuously, and in fact, very few are deposited the first year. In subsequent years, the mature queen will lay more eggs. Eventually, the colony stabilizes when the queen reaches maximum
egg production. At that point the colony will contain eggs, immatures, soldiers and reproductives. If the queen dies, one or more secondary reproductives take over her duties. The maximum size of a colony depends on factors such as location, food availability and environmental conditions. Most colonies remain small, but multiple colonies in the same piece of wood may contain up to 10,000 individuals. A colony grows through the queen’s increased egg production and the accumulation of long-lived individuals.
Why Are They Called Drywood Termites?
Drywood termites derive their nutrition from cellulose in wood. Within the termite’s gut are large numbers of single-celled animals called protozoa, called symbionts. The protozoa possess bacteria that produce enzymes to digest cellulose, causing the break-down of wood particles to simpler compounds that termites can absorb as food. Without these symbionts, the termites would starve so they are passed to new members of the colony. The immature termites consume wood and share their nourishment with the developing young, soldiers and reproductives.
Moisture is not as important to drywood termites as it is to subterranean termites. Drywood termites require no contact with the soil or with any other source of moisture. They extract water from the wood on which they feed, and also produce water internally during the digestive process. They prefer wood with 10 percent moisture content but require as little as 2.5 to 3 percent moisture.
Homeowners most commonly confuse winged ants with termite alates as several species of ants and termites swarm during the same season. Note the different wing design and the structures of the antennae in the illustration. Think of winged ants as small wasps and the image helps to distinguish the two animals.
Important drywood termite species of Houston!
Dark western drywood termite (Incisitermes minor) is the most important drywood termite to homeowners in this country.
Adult Incisitermes minor swarm during the daylight hours usually during the months of May through early August in Arizona. They favor attic accessible areas of poorly vented houses. Another favorite place for entry is in the crack created by drying plaster or stucco as it pulls away from window and door frames. It is necessary for most termites to be able to get a purchase on the wood that it intends to invade. Normally, termites cannot just land on wood and tunnel effectively. However, if they can crawl down into cracks and crevices, their chances of tunneling successfully are greatly increased.
Incisitermes minor alates , about 1/2 inch long, have an orange-brown head and pronotum (structure immediately behind head), dark brown abdomen, and smoky black wing membranes and veins. The soldiers have orange to reddish brown heads with whitish eyespots and enlarged mandibles. The 3rd antennal segment is enlarged and club-like.
Alates of the light western drywood termite are pale in color. Soldiers have a club-like third antennal segment that is almost as long as all the succeeding segments combined. This characteristic makes the species easy to distinguish from others.
DryWood Termite Damage
Dead trees, branches, brush and firewood from residential areas are the primary habitat of drywood termites. When land is cleared and houses or other buildings constructed, these structures are then subject to attack. Drywood termites enter structures through attic or foundation vents, directly through or under wood shingles, under eaves and fascia boards, and through natural cracks, checks and joints in exposed wood trim, window and door frames and sills. Drywood termites can penetrate flat wood surfaces, but prefer to wedge themselves into narrow places to begin tunneling. Most new homes are constructed on concrete slabs and have tile roofs. However, attic areas are normally vented and wood trim is still commonly used externally.
Signs of DryWood Termite Infestation
Generally, the first indirect sign of infestation is the discovery of fecal pellets or the presence of alates on windowsills or near lights. Alates found inside the house (if windows and doors have been closed), are an indication of infestation within the structure. Another indication of infestation is the presence of discarded wings on windowsills or caught up in cobwebs. The presence of
alates outdoors is a natural phenomenon and is not an implication of home infestation.
Drywood termites spend their entire lives inside wood. They construct round “kick holes” in infested wood, through which the fecal pellets are eliminated from the galleries or tunnels. These pellets accumulate in small piles below the kick holes, or will be scattered if the distance between thekick hole and the surface below is very great. Fecal pellets also may be found caught in spider webs.
Fecal pellets are distinctive and used for identification of drywood termite infestation. Drywood fecal pellets are hard, elongated and less than 1/25 inch long. They have rounded ends and six flattened or concavely depressed sides. The characteristic shape results when the termite exerts pressure on the fecal material to extract and conserve moisture in its hindgut. Typically the pellets are a light tan in color with some black ones mixed in.
Characteristics of DryWood Termite Damaged Wood
Wood, which has a dull or hollow sound when tapped, should be examined closely. Careful probing of wood with a sharp instrument may disclose drywood termite galleries.
The interior of infested wood contains chambers connected by galleries or tunnels that cut across the wood grain. The galleries have a smooth, sculptured appearance and contain few if any fecal pellets. Accumulations of pellets sometimes may be found in blind galleries or unused tunnels.
How To Get Rid Of DryWood Termites!
Getting rid of Drywood Termites is as easy as calling CPL Pest Control! We promise to use the latest in technology to service your home and rid of these pesky wood destroying insects! Call 281-683-6737 for your FREE Consultation and Quote, and as always, ASK TO SPEAK WITH CHRIS!