Termites have a great role in our ecosystem. They produce humus by decomposing dead trees and plants. Humus is a natural by-product which improves the soil’s ability to hold moisture and provides plants the nutrients it needs to grow. However, termites also affect the wood found in our homes and buildings, causing a lot of damage. Termites are spread all over the United States and every home is a target. There are two different types of termites that can infest your house: subterranean and drywood termites. We’ll be talking about drywood termites, how these creatures can destroy your home, and what you can do to prevent it.
Drywood vs. Subterranean Termites
It is very important to identify which termite is which because each type has a specific treatment. Termites differ in their size of colony, roles of every member, appearances, etc.
Formosan subterranean termites are mostly found in damp grounds. They travel underground through mud tubes to search for new dwelling places. These mud tubes are built using their own fecal matter and they use these mud tunnels to travel from one place to another. They eat along the thread of the wood and only eat spring wood, western drywood or any soft woods.
On the other hand, drywood termites directly infest the wood structure. They do not need to produce mud tubes to travel from place to place. Alates or swarmers fly distant places to look for new places where they can start a colony. Drywood termites eat across the thread of the woods which are mostly spring or summer woods. They produce kick holes in their dwelling places where they push out their fecal matters (Drywood termite droppings).
Drywood termites look different from subterranean termites. Alates or swarmers have 3 – 4 thick veins on their wings which are usually dark in color. They discard their wings in just a few minutes after they have found a new spot. They are night swarmers. However, there are some species which swarm during the daytime. Redwood termite’s soldiers have round heads. The size of the head will depend on their species. Some of them may also have teeth on their mandibles.
Drywood termites have three life stages: young, immature and adult. Mature or adult drywood termites are the main workers of the colony. They gather food and feed the young, immature redwood termites and everybody else in the colony.
Signs of Infestation
Basically, identifying redwood termite infestation is really very easy. Review your drywood termites’ pictures to properly identify these pests. If you found the following, you might be infested with drywood termites:
- Live termites
- Fecal pellets
- Kick holes
- Discarded wings of alates or swarmers
It is very obvious that your house is under infestation if you can see live termites at your home. It is also alarming to see piles of fecal pellets just beside their kick holes as this is one of the signs that pest control services usually look for during a termite inspection. You should also be aware of the alates or swarmers. Their presence indicates that they are already inside your house. When you can find discarded wings from alates inside your house, then, your house is already infested. Alates or swarmers are considered as secondary reproductives. Reproductives are termites that could create their own colonies.
It is very important to check every part of your house often. Termites particularly like these areas of the house: exterior rims, corners on the floors and ceilings, windows, door frames, supports, dormers, cornices and stairs.
As much as possible, avoid leaving firewood or scrap wood outside your house. If you absolutely have to, elevate the wood by by a few inches or put them on a table and make sure the area surrounding the pile of wood is clean of debris like dead leaves and garbage. Termites are attracted to debris and nearby wood structures can make it easier for termites to attack your house.
Drywood Termite Prevention and Treatment
It is important to detect drywood termite infestations as early as possible. You don’t want to wait before your supports crack, do you?
You can prevent drywood termites from infesting your house by applying chemicals that can repel these pests. This should be done during the construction. Remove all possible dwelling places like dead branches and the likes. Another thing, drywood termites won’t initiate infestation if your house is painted thoroughly. Drywood termites don’t like the smell and taste of paint. It is very important to consider these preventive measures during the pre-construction plan. If you’ve already built your house, you can still apply these preventive treatments but they won’t be as effective. You also have to remember that these treatments have to be repeated every few years to make sure that termites will stay away.
If your home is already infested by termites, there are 2 things you can do: wood replacement and fumigation. Wood replacement is safer choice as it doesn’t involve harmful chemicals. Wood replacement will replace your damaged wood and other wooden structures. However, this type of treatment may not be applicable to all structures and you have to use treated wood to make sure termites don’t attack the same spot.
Fumigation is the technique most pest control companies use. This is where they cover your house with a tarpaulin tent and they spray insecticides to suffocate all drywood termites inside.
Drywood termites are serious pests. The damage they inflict costs us around $1.7 billion every year. Drywood termites are one of the highly devastating kinds of species. As destructive as termites can be, there are always ways to prevent them that are easier and cheaper than treating them and replacing our homes.