Termite Spotlight: Drywood Termites in South Florida

Termite Spotlight: Drywood Termites in South Florida

While invasive subterranean termites gain the attention of South Florida due to their quick ability to cause significant structural damage, the slower action of drywood termites can often go undetected within walls, floors and attic spaces, resulting in concealed and accumulating damage. Drywood termites do not require an external water source, such as a roof leak, because they are biologically adapted to conserve water, putting at risk even the most structurally-sound homes.

 According to the University of Florida’s Entomology Department, drywood termites invaded South Florida during early commerce in the 17th century. Drywood termites were transported here from the tropics, concealed within infested wooden ships and materials. Drywood termites are prevalent in the high-humidity, exterior landscapes and forested areas of South Florida. However, a particular species of drywood termite, Cryptotermes brevis, is adapted to thrive in conditions of lower-humidity, such as found within homes. As a result, Cryptotermes brevis is the most common structure-infesting drywood termite in the tropics worldwide. South Florida is the only true tropical region in the continental United States, and has optimal conditions for this structure-infesting termite.

 Drywood termite colonies are comparatively small, consisting of ~2,800 members, whereas

invasive subterranean termite colonies can be comprised of millions. Drywood termite infestations are typically confined to a single region of a home, but multiple colonies can establish following a reproductive swarm within the structure. Infested lumber or furniture can be detected by the presence of “frass”. Frass is termite fecal material that can be identified by a sawdust-like appearance, earning Cryptotermes brevis their nickname, “powder post termites.” Drywood termites excavate lumber from within and expel their frass from “kick-out” holes. This is done in order to make room for their growing colony, and the damage will continue to accumulate until treatment is performed.

 Description of drywood termites

  • Drywood termites range in size from 1/4 – 3/8 inches long, depending on age.
  • Worker termites vary in color, from cream to almost white, and are typically shorter than the alates and soldiers. Workers are responsible for brood care and feeding the other caste members, such as soldiers (responsible for defense) and alates (responsible for reproduction).
  • Soldier termites range in color from cream to brown and are equipped with strong mandibles and a well-developed tarsal claw. The head capsule of Cryptotermes brevis soldiers is dark, rugose, and plug-like.
  • Alates, the caste member that swarms and is responsible for reproduction, vary in color from caramel brown to black, and alates have slightly longer bodies than the soldiers. Alates have two pairs of equally sized, membranous wings.

 Signs of a drywood termite infestation

Cryptotermes brevis typically perform their reproductive flights from April – June. During these flights, the alates fly out of the infested lumber in attempt to find a mate and begin a new colony. At this time, an existing infestation can spread, or a new home can be infested. Alates gain access to homes via doors, windows, soffit vents, etc. After the alates land on a surface, they will detach their wings to easily crawl into lumber through an imperfection in the wood. Because of this, homeowners may notice termite wings scattered about the home, especially near windowsills or other light sources. Wings or whole-bodied alates can indicate an infestation, or that your home is surrounded by an infested structure.

Because drywood termites live within the wood, they can go unnoticed for a long period of time. Drywood termites extract and conserve the available water in lumber, and do not require an outside water source. Thus, they produce distinctly dry and six-sided pellet-like fecal material. Homeowners may notice this “frass” expelled from kick-out holes in the wood’s surface. These pellets indicate feeding from an active infestation.

Wood may appear to be water-damaged, but upon further inspection, may actually be hollowed-out due to drywood termites. Homeowners can use tools, such as a screwdriver, to tap on suspected areas, and determine if the wood has been hollowed out, depending on the sound made from the tapping.

These indicators often go unnoticed by homeowners, which is how drywood termites can potentially cause significant and costly structural and cosmetic damages, even when equipped with a relatively slow metabolism and small colony size. Therefore, at the earliest detection of possible infestation, a Certified Pest Control Company should be notified. In fact, with the extreme termite pressures applied to South Florida, a free inspection, or a preventative treatment is recommended.

Prevention of drywood termites

Included are a few suggestions that homeowners can complete to reduce the likeliness of becoming infested by either drywood or subterranean termites. Although these methods can help, they are not nearly as effective as a Termite Prevention Program serviced by a Certified Pest Control Company.

  • Caulk or seal all cracks, holes, and crevices
  • Screen soffit vents
  • Limit exterior lighting during flight season
  • Remove or replace damp wood
  • Ensure all drain spouts face away from your foundation and drain properly
  • Avoid direct wood to soil contact

Treatment for drywood termites

Structures infested with drywood termites should be treated accordingly by Certified Pest Control Technicians. Hulett Environmental Services is ranked as one of the top 20 pest control companies in the United States and has over 50 years’ experience treating drywood termites in South Florida.

While we’ve fumigated plenty of South Florida homes and businesses over the years, with the introduction of new technology, training, and methodology, Hulett now recommends their “No-Tent Treatment”. This treatment is perfect for customers looking for a less invasive, less time consuming, less expensive, yet effective solution for drywood termites. The “No-Tent Treatment” offered by Hulett can save you money, time, and does not require the tedious preparation and evacuation required for fumigation.

Our Certified Technicians can target drywood termite colonies using an advanced, non-repellent product that is injected directly into termite galleries, therefore not leaving any discoloration or scent. Termite workers spread the product throughout the colony during social grooming and feeding, resulting in complete mortality of the colony in entirety. After treatment, Hulett will continue to monitor your home for any activity, without the need to bag foods, remove medicines, and evacuate, as required for fumigation.

 Annual Termite Prevention Program

Hulett is proud to offer a Termite Prevention Program. In this program, Hulett offers proactive services to help prevent initial infestation. Hulett’s Annual Termite Protection Service creates a termite barrier, protecting your home and family from the costly repairs and emotional burden associated with drywood termite infestation. This program is backed by our guarantee, giving our customers peace of mind that if termites come back, so will we, and at no extra cost. As a token of our appreciation, Hulett also includes a free annual perimeter spray with your Termite Renewal Program.

Contact us today to schedule a free termite inspection. Gain peace of mind and year-round termite protection by enrolling in our Termite Prevention Program backed by our Healthy Home Guarantee. We take pride in our ability to be flexible to you and your home’s needs. Remember, for the best in termite prevention and protection, just call Hulett!

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