Drywood Termite Control

Drywood termites get their name from their habit of attacking wood that is above the ground. Drywood termites do not ever go into the soil. There are several species of drywood termites in the United States. Some of them are known as powderpost termites.

Drywood termites are common along the Gulf Coast, in the Southeastern States, and in the Mid–Atlantic States. They are also common in the Desert Southwest and along the Pacific Coast. They have been found in other parts of the country, but scientists suspect that they had been transported to these locations in furniture or other shipments.

When drywood termite swarmers fly out to start new colonies, they burrow into cracks in the wood where they land. Drywood termite swarmers often make their nests in wood siding, windowsills, doorframes, and eaves of the houses where they land.

Drywood termites often fly into garages where the doors are left open. The termites can invade the walls, especially if the walls are unfinished. They can also attack furniture or any other wooden items that they find in the garage.

Since drywood termites do not live in the soil, they do not make mud tubes. When they eat wood, they often eat across the grain. There is no dirt in the galleries that the drywood termites make. The damaged wood looks smooth and clean inside.

Drywood termites produce distinctive fecal pellets. They are elongated pellets that are rounded on the ends. Each pellet has six concave sides. The termites often push the pellets out of the gallery through tiny holes.

It is common to find piles of fecal pellets on windowsills and other surfaces. The pellets are an indication that drywood termites are active in the vicinity. Homeowners who find piles of pellets on windowsills should look directly above the pile of pellets. It is very likely that the drywood termites damage is near the top of the window.

Drywood termite colonies develop very slowly. After four years, a colony of Western drywood termites, Incisitermes minor (Hagen), will have fewer than 1,000 termites. The colony normally has a few soldiers. Besides the king and queen, nymphs (immature termites) make up the rest of the colony.

If drywood termites have attacked a small item, like a picture frame or a piece of furniture, they are often easy to eliminate. Depending on the item, it may be placed in a freezer to kill the termites. In warm weather, the item might be wrapped in black plastic and placed in the sun for a few hours to kill the termites.

Since drywood termite colonies are small, it is often possible to eliminate an infestation by removing the infested pieces of wood. If the wood is accessible, it can be removed and replaced.

If it is not convenient to remove the wood, it may be possible to inject insecticide into the termite galleries. There are several insecticides available for this treatment, but dust might be most effective since it will not soak into the wood. It may be necessary to drill small holes into the galleries in order to make the application.

Unfinished wood in crawl spaces and other locations can be treated with a borate solution. The borate material can be sprayed or painted onto the wood. It will be absorbed into the wood. The borate makes the wood toxic to termites without affecting the strength or appearance.

In cases where the infestation is widespread or hard to reach, it may be necessary to fumigate the structure. This treatment will kill all of the termites. Depending on the type of fumigant that is used, the people and pets must be out of the structure for a period of time while it is being fumigated.

Homeowners can protect their home against drywood termites. Regular maintenance is an important part of the process. Window and doorframes, crawl space access doors, eaves, and garages should be inspected carefully. Cracks should be filled with putty or caulk. Paint should be replaced when it starts to crack or peel.

Many homeowners call on a pest control professional for a periodic termite inspection. These experts can identify signs of drywood termite activity. They can also point out any maintenance issues that should be addressed.