The Dry Wood Termite

It'll never be your best friend, that's for sure, but you need to get to know the dry wood termite because in war, it's always best to know your enemy well. Once the dry wood termite invades your home, it's prepared to claim the territory and doesn't care one iota if you have to move out as a result. Arm yourself with the right information and you can win the war against this utter pest.

Class system

dry wood termitesThe dry wood termite lives in un-decayed wood that has a low moisture content. This is quite unlike its subterranean cousin, who requires contact with the soil. It operates in somewhat of a class system: reproducers, workers and soldiers and each "class" is responsible for a particular biological function. The workers make up the largest sect of the colony and they perform the most destructive tasks. They and the reproducers utilize their specially adapted chewing mouths to make short work of wood. The soldier termites, on the other hand, have extremely strong mandibles, or jaws, that enable them to attack their adversaries, mostly ants.

Food sources

The diet of the dry wood termite is predominantly wood but they will also eat other cellulose materials. They commonly congregate in the framework of homes as well as wooden furniture, light poles and rotting trees. Although they can't digest cellulose in a straightforward manner, dry wood termites have bacteria and protozoans in their stomachs that break the cellulose down and then their metabolism can digest it.

They don't require water as they can live on the water they produce during the digestion of the cellulose. For this reason, the dry wood termite can survive for long periods in dry conditions.

How to check for dry wood termites

If you notice shed wings or fecal pellets, or start to see holes in wood, you will need to further investigate for a dry wood termite infestation. The fecal pellets are roughly 1/25 of an inch long, have rounded ends and six flattened surfaces, between which are six ridges. Picture a tiny, striped or ridged bullet.

How to treat an infestation

  • Firstly you need to determine if the infestation warrants control. Since the dry wood termite constructs a colony and it develops fairly quickly in comparison with other insects, the problem could be solved on its own. Once the wood is consumed, the termites die naturally. However, it's very disconcerting to have a termite infestation and many homeowners will understandably want to take more proactive measures.
  • A certified pest control operator carries out structural fumigation. The entire building needs to be wrapped in a fumigation cover during the process so obviously, the family will need to vacate for several days.
  • The job means that all pets, food products and plants have to be removed prior to treatment due to the toxicity of the fumigant. Unfortunately, no residue remains to prevent any future infestations so you will still need to be vigilant about checking for dry wood termites, even after the problem is fixed.

For less extensive treatments, holes are drilled into the affected wood via the termite galleries and then insecticide is fed through the holes and it diffuses throughout. There are also alternative termite treatments available.

It's essential that if you feel you have a dry wood termite problem, you call a professional to assess the damage and help you decide what course of action to take. It can be very unnerving indeed to feel as though invisible and very hungry pests are eating your home away beneath you.