Tropical Tough-Headed Drywood Termites


  • Scientific name: Cryptotermes brevis
  • Size: 1/8th an inch
  • Color: White to pale cream bodies and heads (nymphs) or with black head and pincers (soldiers),
  • Shape: Elongated bodies with rounded heads (nymphs), shorter, rounded bodies with small square heads (soldiers)
  • Found in: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida

What are they?
The tropical tough-headed drywood termite is the most damaging of all the different types of drywood termites. Because they are a type of drywood termite it means that they don’t require soil contact to survive. They have been called a “lazy termite” because they don’t often travel very far from their home colony during swarming. They prefer to use already constructed gaps to enter a man-made structure instead of burrowing into the exposed timber on their own. They swarm during the months of April to July before sunrise and right after sunset.
How can you tell you have them?
The swarmers are very attracted to light and this is usually the best indication that you have this type of termite in your home. Because these termites don’t always make outward entrances into the structure, seeing swarmers can be the best way to let you know that you have a infestation. They typically re-infest the home that they are already living in. Like with other drywood termites, you can tell if you have a significant infestation by tapping on wood you think may be infested. If it has serious damage, you can hear or feel a hollow sound from the wood. Because this species keeps close to the home colony even during swarming, it is possible that you can have a more serious infestation than you initially think by simply judging by the size of an individual swarm.
What kind of environment do they like?
This kind of termite is classified as a “drywood termite,” which means that they do not need contact with the soil to gain moisture. They can gain their moisture needs from the wood they ingest. This type of termite, unlike the dampwood termite, does not need to have a particularly damp timber environment to infest either, which can make finding an infestation more difficult than find a dampwood species. They construct large living spaces within the wood they infest, cutting across both the soft and the hard parts of the wood. This type of termite lives in the wood that they eat.
Eating habits
The tropical tough-headed drywood termite in the wild typically infests drier wood like that of fallen trees and other types of timber. In human habitation, they can infest everything from house timbers to furniture, picture frames, wooden knick-knacks and unused, untreated timber for construction. They can also be transported to other locations and structures by these means. Because their colonies are typically below 3,000 members, an entire colony could be transported in a wooden piece of furniture.
What to do?
As with a lot of species of termite, the best way to control termite infestations is prevention. With areas that are affected by tropical tough-headed drywood termites, it is best to inspect all untreated furniture before it comes into the house. It is also a good idea to check your home for the extent of your infestation once you find a sign of tropical tough-headed drywood termites, as this species can establish many different colonies in a single dwelling.

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