Some Termite Basics

Some Termite Basics

There are over 40 different species of termites found in the United States, each of which falls into one of the three main types – subterranean, drywood or dampwood. Because different species require different control methods, it is very important that your pest control expert correctly identify the termites before treating an infestation.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are one of the most devastating wood destroying organisms on areas where a dry and warm climate is prevalent. These Termites are very likely to be found on exposed wood, buildings structural framing, fences, decks and patios. Drywood termites love to build colonies on, as their name implies, dry wood that is usually above the foundation or ground level. This type of wood destroying organism is not very likely to be found in areas that experience freezing temperatures. Drywood termites are found mainly in the humid coastal areas of the southern states of the United States from Virginia to Florida, through the desert southwest, along the Pacific coast to northern California and in Hawaii.

Signs of Drywood Termite Infestation:

Swarms are often the most noticeable sign of any termite infestation. However, drywood termite swarms can be so small that they may be overlooked. Other warning signs for drywood termite activity include groups of discarded same-size wings and small mounds of fecal pellets (frass).

Dampwood Termites

Florida dampwood termites are found throughout Florida and the Florida Keys. Popular habitats include woodlands, mangroves, and some urban environments in southern portions of the Sunshine State. Because of their moisture requirements, structural infestations of dampwood termites are associated with sources of free water. These include wood-to-soil contact, wood exposed to roof leaks, or wooden siding or ornamentation exposed to rainfall or sprinkler irrigation.

Signs of Dampwood Termite Infestation:

Signs of dampwood termite infestation include small swarms of flying termites and fecal pellets. Both dampwood and drywood termites leave behind small mounds of fecal pellets. However, drywood termite pellets are six-sided and dry, while dampwood termite pellets are moist and not as well defined in shape. It is unlikely that you will see dampwood termite damage, as worker termites typically plug all holes in wood with fecal material.

Subterranean Termites

The Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) has now become established in Florida and other southern states. Where moisture regularly collects inside the wall or other cavities of a building, say from faulty plumbing or broken roof tiles, the Formosan termite can develop a subsidiary colony nest, which may not require contact with the ground to ensure its survival. This is particularly prevalent in areas of high humidity where wood moisture is above average. Due to its size and aggressive foraging behaviour a colony of Formosan termites does more damage than single colonies of other U.S. subterranean species, and can cause significant structural damage to a home within 6 months.

Signs of Subterranean Termite Infestation:

Large swarms of flying termites and the presence of mud tubes are the two most noticeable signs of subterranean termite infestations in homes. However, these signs can be difficult to detect. Annual termite inspections focusing on termite entry points and signs of activity are important to prevent damage.


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