Termites, also known as White Ants, are isopteric and eusocial insects which are believed to be close relatives of Cockroaches during Jurassic or Triassic times. Although they are called White Ants, their behavior does not resemble the behavior of ants.
Like other categories of insects (ants, bees, wasps), the termites also have caste system prevalent in their colonies. Female Workers, Sterile Males and Soldiers form the three castes of their colonies. Along with these, their colonies also have fertile females, which can be more than one in number, called the Queen and a fertile Male called King.
These species are known to cause havoc in our homes, especially the wooden part of our house, as they feed on cellulose found in wood. More than 2000 species of termites exist in the world but the most common home-invading termite species are—Subterranean termites, Dampwood termites and Drywood Termites.
In this article, we will know more about Drywood Termites.
- Drywood Termite Identification
- Appearance of Drywood Termites
- Lifecycle of Drywood Termites
- Signs of Drywood Termite Infestation
- How to kill and get rid of Drywood Termites?
- Drywood Termite Treatment
- Drywood Termite Prevention
Drywood Termite Identification
According to these termites, wood is delicious, hence they feed on wood causing large-scale destruction to furniture in our homes or any other wooden structure. Often we confuse termites with ants and sometimes with other variety of termites which are Dampwood and subterranean termites.
* Drywood Termite Identification from Ants
Ants evolved from wasps and bees whereas Drywood Termites evolved from Cockroaches, so it follows that the two species are going to have physical as well as behavioral differences.
Waist size of Drywood Termites is more than waist size of Ants. Midriff of ants is thicker than the midriff of Drywood Termites which makes Drywood Termite Identification easier. Another prominent difference between the two species is that antennae of ants are bent while Drywood Termites have straight antennae. Another difference between the two species comes in the form of the size of their wings. Length of both wings of Drywood Termites is equal whereas, in the case of ants, back wings are comparatively shorter than front wings.
* Drywood Termite Identification from subterranean termites
Subterranean termites build a nest, so do Drywood Termites but the nests of subterranean termites are located deep inside the soil which has mud tubes to provide access to them but the nests of Drywood Termites are inside the piece of wood they are infecting as they don’t need moisture to survive. Their colonies are usually smaller in comparison to Subterranean Termites.
Another characteristic feature of Subterranean Termites is that they excrete cardboard-like ‘carton’. The nests made in the trees and voids of the walls have the lining of carton in mud tubes. Drywood Termites, on the other hand, create holes to push out their excrement which looks like fine powder sand/salt and pepper congregating in small heaps on the wood.
The feeding pattern of the two varieties of termites is different too. Subterranean termites’ feed on the pliable part of the wood creating an orderly style of damage which includes mud as well. Drywood Termites don’t appear to have any particular favorite part of the wood, they chew and chew and create irregular and downy lines which contain their feces.
* Drywood Termite Identification from Dampwood termites
Dampwood Termites are difficult to identify, therefore, they become easily distinguishable from Drywood Termites. Although there exists a little bit difference in their color which makes recognizing them a bit easier, Soldier Drywood Termites are cream or brownish in color, on the other hand, Soldier Dampwood Termites are dark brownish in color and a bit larger in size as compared to Soldier Drywood Termites. Also, Dampwood Termites don’t have any workers in their colonies, only Soldier and Reproductive Termites are found.
Appearance of Drywood Termites
The colonies of Drywood Termites have workers, soldiers and alates in them, and their color and size depend upon their role in the group. Soldier termites are comparatively larger than worker termites and are wingless; they exist to protect the group. These termites have powerful jaws, the inner part of which has teeth for fighting. Worker termites are cream in color and can be easily spotted against any wooden surface. Soldier termites can be colored from cream to brown while Alates or the winged reproductive termites can be dark brown or black or even grey in color.
Lifecycle of Drywood Termites
Alates or reproductive Termites of a colony leave that colony when they realize that the colony is mature enough to function without them. These termites are called swarmers and the process is called swarming. This process takes place during the night or at the dusk. When they leave their colonies they hang around the nearest light sources as these light sources attract them. And as every swarmer hangs around the light sources, their chances of finding a mate near these sources are high.
Although there is a considerably large amount of swarmers only a few of them survive to mate and create their own colony. When the surviving swarmers find a suitable mate they find an appropriate location to establish their colony, preferably a piece of wood. The male and female swarmers who have mated and established a colony are now called the King and the Queen of that colony. They create a hole in the wood so that the Queen can lay the first lot of eggs. The King makes sure that they mate regularly so that the Queen can produce more and more eggs.
After a few weeks, the first batch of eggs is ready to hatch and the King and the Queen are ready to take care of them as well. The newly hatched eggs release nymphs and after molting twice they are considered mature enough to serve the Royal Couple. Their task is to provide food to the couple and take care of another set of eggs that might be on the verge of hatching.
The first year is not so active for the couple as the Queen hasn’t matured completely yet. It takes about a year for the Queen to mature completely then she keeps laying eggs until she stops doing that altogether. By the time the Queen has stopped laying eggs, the colony is developed as well. The colony now consists of a significant number of nymphs, workers, soldiers and alates but still, their population is not as large as the population of Subterranean Termites. The Queen of any such colony lives for about 40 years but even after the King or the Queen dies the colony keeps progressing as the secondary reproductives take their place as they too are capable of giving birth to new generations.
Signs of Drywood Termite Infestation
It is often tricky to identify Signs of Drywood Termite Infestation because the wood on which they feed becomes their house too. They can live into your furniture for years and you would have no idea that you’re renting your house to someone. What’s even more outrageous is that they don’t even pay rent; rather they make us pay, as they have done the outrageous task of eating up our furniture. It takes about 7 to 8 years for a single colony of Drywood Termites to bring about any conspicuous harm to our furniture.
The Queen of the colonies releases a pheromone, four years after their stay, which promotes the growth of alate termites, or the winged termites which are also known as the swarmers. The encouraged production on these swarmers can be one of the first signs of their presence, but unfortunately, this particular sign is not very noticeable.
Swarms take place only twice or at times, only once a year and their population is no more than 10-100; this is the reason why the swarmers are not so noticeable. But if you are successful in noticing these swarms then you might observe the little signs they leave here and there alarming you of their presence.
-Discarded wings: One of the major Signs of Drywood Termite Infestation is the presence of discarded wings near a window or any other light source. Reproductive members of Drywood Termites leave their existing colonies to mate and start their own colonies. When they find their mates then they drop their wings to become the Queen Termites. They usually prefer to swarm after rainfall so that is the time when you are most likely to discover their wings.
-Excreted Feces: Drywood Termites create fissures in which they live and tunnel through; they shove their excrement out of these holes as they like to keep their holes clean, which give the impression of small heaps which are made up of finely powdered sand. These heaps of their excretion are the dead giveaway of their locations.
-Hollow Sound: Tap on the surface which you think might be infested by these species; if a kind of hollow sound reaches your ears then it can be a possible location of infestation. Also, peeling or swollen parts of wood or paint can be a sure sign of Drywood Termite Infestation as they eat the wood from inside and leave the outer surface for you to believe that your furniture is safe and sound.
-Clicking Noises: If you suspect that your house is infested by a Drywood Termite then that might be because you heard some kind of clicking sounds coming from the surface of wooden objects. The clicking sound is made by the soldier termites, who bang their heads against the walls to alert the rest of the colony of impending danger. Also, the workers of the colonies who are the prime convict of eating up the furniture make clicking noises while they eat and in turn give away their location.
-Hard to open/close doors: While it is believed that the windows or doors which are hard to close or open because of weather and dampness, it is a misconception. The doors which are hard to open and close are the doors which are infested by termites. When termites feed on wood and channel through the inside area of that wood then they release moisture, this moisture makes the wood to become out of shape and eventually difficult to open or close. So, these deformed doors are one of the sure Signs of Drywood Termite Infestation.
How to kill and get rid of Drywood Termites?
If you have finally observed that you are housing some uninvited guests then you need to get rid of them too. Below are some answers to the question How to kill and get rid of Drywood Termites.
It is a sure way to get rid of Drywood Termites naturally. Keep the windows of your house open all the times, let an adequate amount of sunlight come in and lighten up your house, it will naturally kill Drywood Termites.
Fill a container with equal amounts of Salt and warm water, make sure that the water is very salty. Fill a syringe with this solution and inject in all the suspected infested areas. The injection of this solution causes dehydration among the termites as a result of which the Drywood Termites will die a natural death.
* Orange Oil
It is extracted from the peel of oranges and can prove to be very harmful to humans. It can cause digestive problems on intake and cause irritation in eyes and skin. This oil is insoluble in water so in order to inject it into the enemy territories; you just need to drill that location first. Drill the location then pour the oil inside. It will destroy the cell membranes of this insect resulting in a natural death of the entire colony in a week or so.
* Eliminate Moisture
Termites need moisture to survive. So make sure your furniture is free of moisture. The moment water enters into the wood; there is a high probability of that piece being infected by termites in a few days.
* Hot and Cold
This is one of the most effective answers to our question which is How to kill and get rid of Drywood Termites. Drywood Termites are not adapted to extreme temperatures, so create an atmosphere which is either too cold or too hot; these extreme temperatures will kill Drywood Termites effectively and immediately.
Drywood Termite Treatment
Drywood Termite Treatment methods are broadly classified into two types: Whole Structure Treatment and localized treatments. Whole structure treatments can prove to be quite effective when you suspect any particular area to be infested by Drywood Termites whereas localized treatments are effective in the areas where you are sure that a particular area is infested by Drywood Termites.
Whole Structure Treatment
This treatment method has been used by exterminators for about more than 40 years because it is the most effective Drywood Termite Treatment available. This process takes 2 days to work completely but kills 99% of Drywood Termites from the entire house successfully.
The entire house or building has to be evacuated for this treatment for 2 days as the gas used in fumigation is quite toxic and is very harmful to plants, animals and even humans. The house is first wrapped tarpaulin and a poisonous gas is released which kills termites from every corner of the house. It is also made sure that the tarpaulin is air-tight. Another precaution that must be taken during fumigation is that no edible item should be present in the house.
If done correctly, this method of fumigation can kill termites in about 3 hours. If fumigation is monitored then the success rates become even higher. Gas lines are installed inside the house to keep the fumigation monitored. Non-monitored fumigations are not as successful as monitored fumigations are, as there may not be enough gas to kill infestations.
- -Roofs can be damaged due to the use of Tarpaulins
- -The building or the house which is treated has to be evacuated for fumigation to take place and then proper ventilation has to be maintained later on.
- -Edible Food items should not be present in the house while fumigation.
- -Installing tarpaulins is harder than it sounds.
- - The Dosage of fumigants has to be properly devised.
* Heat Treatment
This method can be used as Whole Structure Treatment as well as Localized or Spot Treatment. In this method, the entire building can be treated without the use of chemicals. The air inside the affected house or building is heated for 30 minutes at 120 degree Fahrenheit temperature. In this method, the building needs to be emptied only for two hours. Large buildings and condominiums can be treated using this method effectively by treating them in parts.
- -There is a probability that this treatment can damage heat-sensitive items like electric channels, wires and plastics.
Localized or Spot Treatment
These treatments should only be done by licensed exterminators and when done correctly then these treatments are 13% to 100% effective. Spot Treatments can be chemical or non-chemical.
* Cold Treatment
Cold Treatment is a non-chemical treatment which is done using Liquid nitrogen and it is a perfect technique to use if chemicals can’t reach the places where Drywood Termites have managed to reach. Liquid Nitrogen reaches such places and instantly freezes that place including Drywood Termites. The temperature drops as low as -20 degree Fahrenheit when Liquid Nitrogen is used.
- -Holes have to be drilled in the effective areas so that the gas can reach properly.
- -There is no residual activity.
* Heat treatment
This method can be used as Whole Structure Treatment as well as Localized or Spot Treatment. To use it for Spot Treatment, simply cover the affected areas with vinyl or polyethylene sheets and temperature probes are inserted inside these sheets. These temperature probes use a propane heater to produce an extreme amount of heat. Once the exterminators are sure that the raised temperature would have killed the Drywood Termites then the temperature is lowered to prevent any kind of heat-related damage to the objects. This treatment, over the years, has proved to be an ideal treatment for bedrooms, porches, attics.
- -There is a probability that this treatment can damage heat-sensitive items like electric channels, wires and plastics.
- -There is no residual activity.
Drywood Termite Prevention
* Cover the Vents
Prevent the King or Queen Drywood Termites from entering your home by covering all the vents using screens. It is suggested to cover all the vents using a 20-grade screen mesh. Also, another thing you should do to put a stop to the entry of Drywood Termites inside your house is to cover all the windows and doors.
* Treat the Wood
Use the wood which is naturally repellent to Drywood Termites and if you have already used some other wood and it has been infected then replace that wood with Drywood Termite repellent wood. Spanish cedar and bald cypress are two the examples of Drywood Termite repellent wood. Also, treatment of wood with insecticides such as Timbor will prevent the Drywood Termites from digesting your furniture. Timbor is made up of sodium diborate and is very harmful to Drywood Termites but at the same time, this insecticide does not cause much harm to the children or pets. Also treating the wood with a chemical called dri-out also helps. It is safe for plants and toxic for Drywood Termites which makes it fairly preferable. After these measures have been used make sure to seal every exposed crack and hole in the wood.
* Spray the Wood
You need a professional to do this for you. These professionals will spray termiticide and fungicide, these chemicals are made up of mineral salt and once you spray them on a piece of wood, there is no need to do that again.
* Relocate the spare pieces of wood
Spare pieces of wood which might be quite close to your house, in your backyard, for instance, can attract Drywood Termites swarmers inside your home. Any kind of wood, firewood or just spare pieces of wood should be kept away from home.
Try using natural ways to prevent and kill these pests as most of the chemicals can end up being toxic to your plants, pets and your family members.