Drywood Termites


  • Scientific name: Cryptotermes cavifrons
  • Size: Swarmers are 7/16th of an inch long, workers and immatures are 1/4th to 3/8th of an inch long
  • Color: Light brown bodies with large, reddish brown to black heads
  • Shape: White to gray with the workers having darker, brownish heads with heavy jaws
  • Found in: Typically in warmer southern regions of the US such as Louisiana, Florida and Hawaii

What are they?
Drywood termites are larger in size than most subterranean termite species and are generally more like ant species in their colony arrangements. They pass through three stages of growth and are for the most part each colony is comprised of the offspring from a single breeding pair. Their colonies are typically smaller than those of other termite species. Unlike subterranean termites which produce liquid frass, drywood termites produce a dry, pelleted form of frass. They do not need to maintain contact with the soil and do not build mud tubes like other types of termites.
How can you tell you have them?
Because of the specific type of frass produced by drywood termites, their colonies require “kickholes” to get rid of their waste. A good indication of a drywood termite infestation is small piles of frass under small holes in the timber of a home. Swarming activity generally occurs from dusk to true dark and the swarmers are attracted to light. Look for dead swarmers or cast off wings near windows or outdoor lights close to the home as an indication of a nearby colony. Moisture is not as important to drywood termites as it is to either subterranean or dampwood termite species, and, unlike detection of those types of termites, moisture damage in a home is not the ideal place to start looking for an infestation.
What kind of environment do they like?
Although drywood termites can subsist on little to no outside water sources, they can be found under the roof structure of homes and also near damaged pipes or fixtures, though this is likely due to ease of entry into the wooden structures of the home as drywood termites can extract water from the wood they consume and also produce water as a by-product from their intestinal processes. Though they can be found in the home, drywood termites tend to habitat woody debris on a property such as wood piles and brush mounds. Once a property is free of such natural habitats is the point at which drywood termites typically make a bid for the man-made structures. They prefer to enter from the roofs or foundation ventilation but can tunnel in from a flat surface as well.
Eating habits
This type of termite cuts across the grain of the wood, consuming both harder spring growth and softer summer growth parts of timber. This type of also termite spends it’s entire life inside the wood it colonizes, not needing contact with the soil and it is therefore at times a little more difficult to identify an infestation before significant damage has occurred.
What to do?
The best control for drywood termites is to reduce the access points for the swarmers. Replacement of older wood in a structure with newer, treated wood is an important step in making sure that an infestation is stopped before it occurs. However, once the termites have established a colony, the next step once you suspect that you have a termite infestation is to contact a pest control company for a thorough inspection of the property in question.

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