Last month, I discussed how subterranean termites are a danger underground. This month, I want to highlight the other termite nightmare for SaddleBrooke homeowners: drywood termites. Drywood termites are commonly found in wood with low moisture content. These termites do not require contact with soil moisture in order to live. They spend almost their entire life cycle inside the sound, dry wood upon which they feed. Since colonies are often small and found deep inside wood, they are difficult to detect. Colonies are also spread over a wide area. They are commonly found in warm climates like Arizona, California, Texas, and Florida. Drywood termites are structural pests that exist in warm, dry climates or tropical climates. They inhabit dry wood typically found above the ground's surface, and they burrow deep into wood.
Drywood termites also enter homes after swarms, usually occurring in the spring and summer months, especially after heavy monsoon rains. During swarms, an existing termite colony sends out a large number of winged, reproductive males and females. These mating swarms may result in several newly fertilized king and queen termites attempting to establish colonies, of which many may be within or around a home. Evidence of multiple shed wings, equal in length near windows and doors can be the first sign. Drywood termites can be more difficult to detect (as compared to subterranean termites) and are not typically noticeable until small piles of black pellets (their feces and unwanted cellulose) plus color of wood that is infested collect. They make their nests within the wood they consume and oftentimes infest walls, columns, beams and furniture. They require no soil contact and get their moisture from the wood. These pests also attack floors, furniture and books. When a colony has matured, winged, swarming termites can be seen around windows and doors. Winged termites are highly attracted to sources of light and are most active in springtime. After mating, these termites locate a new breeding site and create another colony, spreading infestations throughout multiple locations.
The most effective prevention for drywood termites can be "built-in" to a home during its construction phase. Pressure-treated lumber should be installed wherever possible. Further, all untreated wood can be sprayed with borate solutions. Once the construction phase is completed, it is much more difficult to completely treat all wood in a completed house with residual chemicals. If a drywood termite infestation is suspected in your house, a trained pest control professional should conduct a thorough examination of the entire structure. Always make notice of specific areas and keep samples of the pellets whenever possible. In cases where a drywood termite infestation is found, liquid treatment injection of galleries in the infested areas and preventative coatings of through interior baseboard injections and attic treatment is highly effective. (Tommy Gee is the Manager for Truly Nolen in SaddleBrooke. His service office can be reached at (520) 219-2494. Founded in 1938, Tucson-based Truly Nolen of America (www.trulynolen.com ) is one of the largest family-owned pest control companies in the United States.)