Shop here

Contact UsRead our blog

Drywood Termites, Dampwood Termites, and other Wood Destroying Insects

Drywood Termite

Drywood Termites

Unlike the Subterrean termite, drywood termites do not require any contact with the soil. They live in undecayed wood with a low moisture content.

Description:

Drywood termites are in distinct forms or castes - reproductives, workers, and soldiers. Each performs a separate biological function. Only the reproductive drywood termites are winged (4 wings).

Their are no workers in the drywood termite group - instead the young reproductives and soldiers serve as workers until they mature. The vast majority in the drywood termite colony is the worker caste and the workers and the reproductives have chewing mouthparts especially adapted for chewing wood. In drywood termites, it is the workers who do the wide-spread destruction. The soldiers have powerful mandibles to attack their enemies (usually ants).

Male and Female reproductives up to 1/2 inch long. Drywood termites have bodies soft and cylindrical in shape, usually pale brown in color; six legged; they have compound eyes and chewing type mouthparts. During the winged stage there are 4 equal size wings that extend longer than the body by 1/8-1/4 inch. Drywood Termites - Soldier 3/8 inch;

Diet:

Wood and occasionally other cellulose materials. They eat wood in houses, utility poles, furniture and dying trees. They can not digest the cellulose directly. They have other microorganisms (protozoans and bacteria) in their stomachs that help break down the cellulose which then can be digested by their own metabolism.

Habitat:

Drywood termites live in small social colonies in dry wood. They mate and fly to new dry wood areas; enter a small hole in the wood and start to form a colony. In the first year, colony size may be only around 50. After 4 years, there may be as many as 700 individual drywood termites in one colony. At this time, the colony may swarm to start the cycle over again. After 15 years, the drywood termite colony will have grown to approximately 3,000 individuals. Drywood termites do not need a source of water and live off of the water that is produced from the digestion of the cellulose.

Drywood termites infest dry, undecayed wood, including structural lumber as well as dead limbs of native trees and shade and orchard trees, utility poles, posts, and lumber in storage.

The Drywood termites variety have a low moisture requirement and can tolerate dry conditions for prolonged periods. They remain entirely above ground and do not connect their nests to the soil. Piles of their fecal pellets, which are distinctive in appearance, may be a clue to their presence.

From these areas, winged reproductives seasonally migrate to nearby buildings and other structures usually on sunny days during fall months.

Drywood termites are usually found in the humid coastal and subtropical regions (i.e. California, Hawaii, Florida, Arizona, South and North Carolina, New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Puerto Rico). They usually infest attic spaces or exterior wood members exposed to them when they swarm in early spring or summer.

Drywood Termite Damage in the United States

Typical signs of drywood termites infestation include:

  • Shed wings
  • Ejected pellets
  • Galleries inside wood are typical signs of a drywood termite infestation.
  • Swarming ants are many times confused with drywood termites, but their differences are easy to recognize. At: Differences between ants and termites ,you will find a list and chart showing you the difference.
  • Piles of their fecal pellets, which are distinctive in appearance, may be a clue to their presence. The fecal pellets of drywood and dampwood termites

Drywood and Dampwood Termite Fecal

Picture from: © 1996 The Regents of the University of California
Fecal pellets of dampwood and drywood termites. are elongate (about 0.03 inch long) with rounded ends and have six flattened or roundly depressed surfaces separated by six longitudinal ridges.

 

Recommendations for treatment with drywood termites:

PO Treatment for drywood termites consists of:

  1. Structural fumigation:
    This is done by a certified pest control operator. The entire building is covered tightly with a fumigation cover and a sulfuryl fluoride(Vikane) or methyl bromide gas is fumigated.
  2. Direct Wood Treatment (Spot treatments:
    To prepare for use of a a liquid, aerosol, or dust formulation, holes are drilled into the infested timbers through the termite galleries, using a 1/2 " drill in larger timbers and smaller drills elsewhere. Termite insecticide is then forced through these holes to be dispersed through the galleries. DRIONE DUST is labeled for such use. Dusts should be injected in the galleries in small amounts.
    Too much dust would clog the galleries, and the termites will wall off and isolate these areas.

When treating limited infestations, aerosols like INVADER and Drione dust may be used. If you inject a water-based insecticide in a wooden beam..it may produce a favorable site for decay fungi. From: UC Pest Management Guidelines - Drywood Termites, you will find information on detection, whole structure vs. spot treatments, eliminating existig infestations, whole structure treatments and long term preventive treatments.

Another very good site to consult about drywood termites and the options you have can be found at : Drywood options..Univ. of Florida

Back to top of Subterranean TermitesBack to top

Drywood Termites and other Non-Subterranean Termites in Furniture

Because of their abliltiy to live in wood without soil contact, non subterranean termites, like the drywood termite, powder post beetles, or dampwood termites, are frequently carried in infested furniture and other wooden objects into geographical areas where they are not normally found.

As the name implies, drywood termites establish in dry, sound wood that may have as little as 3 percent moisture content. Drywood termites are not dependent upon a constant moisture supply as are the subterranean termite types.

One of the common symptoms of drywood termites attack is the accumulation of tiny, straw-colored fecal pellets inside or beneath infested furniture. These pellets sift from small holes in the surface of infested wood or are pushed out through small round openings maintained by the drywood termites for this purpose. The hard fecal pellets have six distinct, concave surfaces. Presence of pellets does not prove damaged wood is currently infested, as pellets continue to sift from furniture for many years after drywood termites are controlled or die. However, large, consistent accumulations of pellets are a convincing sign the termites are still active.

If the furniture is untreated, use TIMBOR or BORACARE.

Spray and allow it to penetrate the wood. It will last the life of the wood and kill the active beetles. If the wood is painted or varnished, you will need to strip the finish to use either one of these products. Drywood Termites and Powder post beetles can be killed by either extreme heating or freezing. It would need 1.5 hours in a heated chamber of 150°F or 4 hours in a chamber of 140°F. You can also use freezing temperatures to kill these insects. Exposure to -4°Fdegrees F for seven days will kill them. You will need to take care that either extreme of temperature would not damage the article.

Back to top of Subterranean TermitesBack to top

Dampwood Termites

Winged Dampwood Termite
Winged dampwood termite

Dampwood termites don't require contact with the soil in order to obtain moisture, but wood with a high degree of moisture is needed. They are usually associated with wood decay. Because of their high moisture requirements, they most often are found in cool, humid areas along the coast.

Pacific dampwood termites (at times called a "rottenwood termite") is a major pest at low altitudes along the coastal areas of California, Washington and Oregon.

Dampwood termites winged reproductives are dark brown with brown wings. Soldiers have a flattened brown or yellowish brown head with elongated black or dark brown mandibles. Nymphs are cream-colored with a characteristic spotted abdominal pattern caused by food in their intestines.

Dampwood termites nest in wood buried in the ground. In nature, they are commonly found in tree stumps and fallen tree branches. In your home the most likely areas to find them would be an older wood deck, leaky roof eaves, leaky showers or tubs, or substructures with inadequate ventilation or plumbing leaks.

The Dampwood termite is much larger than the subterranean and drywood termites, measuring in at 3/8 to 3/4 of an inch. They can swarm periodically throughout the year and it is common to see the swarming reproductives caught in spider webs next to exterior lights since they are instinctively attracted to light.

The work of the colony is done by the immature soldiers or reproductives, there is no worker caste. Dampwood termites swarms are small.

They produce a fecal pellet similar to drywood termite, but it is slightly larger and has a more irregular shape. Damage in wood can be identified by a velvelty appearance in the galleries.

Dampwood termites produce distinctive fecal pellets that are rounded at both ends, elongate, but lacking clear longitudinal ridges common to drywood termite pellets; flattened sides are noticeable.

Drywood and Dampwood Termite Fecal Matter

The Nevada dampwood termites are slightly smaller and darker than the Pacific species; reproductives are about 3/4 inch long.

The Nevada dampwood termite occurs in the higher, drier mountainous areas of the Sierras where it is an occasional pest in mountain cabins and other forest structures; it also occurs along the northern California coast. It differs from the Pacific dampwood in being subterranean in "habit". It attacks only moist wood. This termite is of horticultural importance because it frequently attacks the underground parts os shrubs an young trees. It occurs often in citrus groves.It is also found in fence posts, baseboards and door frames of buildings. Flights occur in July and August in evenings after rains.

The Florida dampwood termite is found in the exterme southeastern counties of Florida and in the keys. It lives naturally in damp( but solid) logs near salt water, and is common pest of buildings in this limited area. It is not subterranean by nature, although it may enter logs beneath the soil.

 

Control of Dampwood Termites:

Chemical treatment may be not necessary for the control of dampwood termites. Since the dampwood termite requires wood with a high moistrure content, correction of the moisture source is necessary. This normally means replacing the exising infested and saturated wood in conjunction with elimination of the moisture source.

 

Common correction methods:

  • Increase the ventilation in the affected area, reducing the moisture and repair leaky showers and plumbing.
  • Make sure you have proper drainage.
  • Construction needs to be designed to avoid contact of wood and soil.
  • If the damp wood is not accessible to be removed, treatment of the soil with an effective insecticide or termite baiting systems would be neccessary.

 

Back to top of Subterranean TermitesBack to top

Powderpost Beetles

Powderpost Beetles
Picture courtesy : UC Riverside Entomology

In this section we will discuss four types of Powderpost beetles in four families: Lyctidae, Bostrichidae, Anobiidae, and Cerambycidae. Adults do little damage, it is the larvae that does the major part of the damage.They go through a complete metamorphosis: adults, eggs, larvae and pupae.

 

True Powderpost Beetles(Lyctidae):

The adults are very small, less than 1/4" in size. They are flattened and reddish-brown to black in color. Larvae are white, cream colored, c shaped with dark brown heads. Larvae create tunnels in the wood and become pupae. As adults they bore out through the wood, pushing a fine powdery dust out.The shape of their holes are round ,about 1/32-1/16 pinholes.

They attack hardwoods depositing their eggs. They can attack bamboo(technically a grass),but because of the large pores they will attack. Their diet is starch, sugar and protein in the sapwood of hardwoods Wood that is less than 6% moisture content is seldom attacked .The life cycle averages one year to complete .This wood-boring beetle is the most widespread in the United States. Many times infestations are built into structures from infested lumber .They can reinfest.

 

Lycid damage is characterized by:

  • Presence of extremely fine, flour like powder falling from the surface holes.
  • The frass left by other wood borers usually contains pellets, has a course texture and a tendency to stick together.
  • When inspecting damage, be sure to distinguish old damage from active beetle infestations.
  • Recently formed holes and frass(sawdust like) are light in color and clear in appearance....old holes and frass are dark in color.

 

False Powderpost Beetle(Bostrichidae)

They are larger than other families of powderpost beetles...so their exit holes are larger. These holes do not contain frass,but the galleries do. The frass is tightly packed, tends to stick together and is meal like( contains no pellets)

The adults are 1/8-to 1-inch long, cylindrical, and reddish brown to black. The adults bore into the wood in order to lay eggs, leaving a hole larger that 1/8 inch, usually in wood less than 10 years old.

The larvae are curved and wrinkled. Their diet is dependent on the starch in the wood, they are more common in softwood ,but can attack hardwoods. They require 6-30% moisture content in the wood, and complete the average life cycle in one year.

Most of the hardwoods attacked are not those commonly found used for interior floors,woodwork or trim. Most of this species does not reinfest wood after it is seasoned, so the damage is limited to that inflicted by one generation. However the speed of the damage can be considerable. Most of the time they do not reinfest wood after it has been seasoned. They are often found in oak, firewood and furniture.

 

Anobiid Powderpost Beetle (Anobiidae)- Furniture and Deathwatch Beetles

Tthe funiture beetle is found mostly in the eastern half of the United States and it infests structural timbors as well. The Death-watch beetel is found trhroughout the United States. It attacks building timbers in poorly ventilated areas where moisture tends to collect.

The name"Death watch" comes from the ticking sound that the adult makes inside infested wood that is audible during a still night. It is a mating call.

The insect is a common pest in the southeastern United States in crawl space timbers. Infestations can become so severe, that loss of structural strength to sills , joists, and subflooring occurs.

The Adults are 1/8-1/4 inch long. They are red to dark brown in color and their shaped is usually oval. The adults lay their eggs in the cracks and crevices of seasoned wood. As soona as they hatch, larvae burrow ito the wood where they live and tunnel for a year or more.

The larvae form tunnels in both softwoods and hardwoods They require 13-30% moisture content. The larvae are slightly curved and wrinkled, with tiny hairs on the body.

Their holes are round,1/16-1/8 inches. They can digest cellulose from the wood. They are inclined to the softwoods ,for this reason they are common in crawl spaces and basements ,infesting the pine used as framing lumber.

The powder outside the holes (frass) is fine to coarse, many times with small pellets. The life cycle averages 1-3 years.

They commonly reinfest crawl space areas that are poorly ventilated and humidity is absorbed in the wood.

Old house borer termite
Old House Borer(from the family Cerambycidae)
Picture courtesy : UC Riverside Entomology

The Old House Borer is one of the most common from this family, with it's larvae hollowing out galleries in seasoned softwood(pine). It is found in older buildings, but is more frequent in newer buildings,(in houses less than 10 years old).The adults are brownish-black to black, slightly flattened and about 3/4-1 inch long. The average life cycle is usually one to three years, but can take up to twelve years if nutritional and environmental conditions are unfavorable. Because of the long life cycle, reinfesting the wood it may take years before you see any structural damage.

The exit holes are about 1/4-3/8-inch in diameter, but damage may have occurred for several years before spotting such holes. They are able to digest cellulose.

When wood has been infested with fungi, the larval development is faster. Their powder (frass) in the tunnels are like sawdust ,tightly packed.

 

Inspection for Wood Boring Beetles:

  • Inspect periodically all exposed wood surfaces and probe them for evidence of internal damage.
  • Evidence of attack is more common in attics, crawl spaces , unfinished basements and storage areas.
  • To be certain that the infestation is active(not old damage or old frass), there should be fresh frass the color of newly sawed wood, or live larvae or adults in the wood.

 

Control and Recommendations:

  • The first thing to do is reduce the moisture content, to a proper ventilation to less than 20%.Moisture meters can be used to determine the moisture level in the wood. Central heat,vapor barriers and good ventilation can help control moisture.
  • If practical..remove infested wood. If not,use residaul borate insecticides.
  • Recommended products are two borate insecticides:

TIMBOR is a powder that mixes with water. One lb.is mixed with one gallon of water and sprayed to the surface area of in infestation. When sprayed it penetrates the entire wood, where it will remain for several years .An alternative to Timbor is:

BORACARE: Boracare is a liquid borate that penetrates faster initially than the Timbor for first few hours but is equal after that..Timbor is considerabley cheaper per gallon use.

Back to top of Subterranean TermitesBack to top

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ant

Appearance:

Carpenter ants are quite large, from 1/4 o 3/8" long; dark brown to black, but some may have a red or yellowish coloration. The usual carpenter ant is large and black..but you can have the Florida Carpenter ant, which is smaller with a range in colors...yellow, red brown or black..

Click here for a picture of carpenter damage

 

Diet:

They eat a variety of plant and animal foods and sweets. These ants will also feed on other insects. They do not digest wood.

 

Biology:

Being social insects,they have different forms of "castes" in their colonies. Mature colonies have winged a nd wingless queens, winged males, two sizes of wingless workers, and immature stages(eggs,larvae and pupae).

  • They swarm and mate during the springtime.
  • Swarming generally occurs after three-six years,when a colony contains 3,000 or more ants.
  • A single queen starts a new colony.
  • Damage can occur before a homeowner is aware of the presence of carpenter ants, because it takes a while to build up the colony in population before you may take notice of foraging ants or swarmers.
  • Carpenter ant colonies inside homes may release swarms indoors.
  • Carpenter ants in the house during the winter months or winged carpenter ants indoors at any time of year is a sign that they have a nest somewhere in the house.
  • If it is just a few workers , seen during the summer months,more likely they are simply foraging from the outside; entering and exiting.

A carpenter ant colony may contain a main nest and one or more"satellite" nests. The main nest contain the queen,eggs and larvae, and workers. Ants in these "satellite" nests are the ones that normally do stuctural damage to homes.

During the winter months, the ones outside are inactive. Indoor nest can remain active, but at a reduced rate.

 

Habits:

They are nocturnal. There activity peaks between 8:00 p.m. and 4 a.m.Their ideal temperature for habitation is between 71 degrees to 74 degrees F. It would be advantageous to inspect at these times and temperature conditions.

  • They usually nest outside in moist wood or partially decayed wood in that they prefer the "softened wood" to hollow out their nests called "galleries".
  • These galleries are quite clean and have a sandpaper appearance.
  • (Termite galleries are rough looking in comparison.)
  • Wood which has been damaged by carpenter ants contains no mud-like material, as is the case with termites.
  • Nests are especially common in such places as moist, hollow spaces, like the wall void behind dishwashers.
  • Nests are usually found in areas where water leakage could occur, around bathtubs, sinks, roof leaks, poorly flashed chimneys, or poorly sealed windows or door frames.
  • Outdoor nest can occur in stumps, hollow logs, fence posts or in dead portions of standing trees, however cracks and crevices may be used to start nests in sound wood.

They may establish nests in a number of different locations. It is important to understand than you can have both inside and outside nests. They construct two different kinds of nests:parent colonies which,when mature, contain an egg-laying queen, brood and 2000 or more worker ants, and satellite colonies which may have large numbers of worker ants, but no queen, eggs or larvae. The carpenter ants inside a home may have originated from the parent nests located outdoors in a tree stump, timber or woodpile for example, or from one or more satellite nests hidden behind a wall in the kitchen or bathroom, or perhaps from wood dampened by a roof leak in the attic. Although large colonies can cause structural damage, the damage is not normally as serious as termite damage.

 

How to detect galleries:

  • Many times you can see "sawdust" near these carpener ant galleries.
  • This "sawdust" or "frass", are shredded fragments of wood that has been ejected from the galleries. This is a good indication that a nest is nearby. But sometimes this evidence is not seen,taking a screwdriver,probing the wood may reveal the excavated galleries.
  • Also, you could take the blunt end of the screwdriver to tap along baseboards and other wood surfaces listening for the hollow sound of damaged wood.
  • If a nest is nearby, many times the carpenter ants will respond by making a "rustling" sound within the nest, similar to crinkling of cellophane.

 

Foraging Carpenter Ants from the outside:

Many times the ones that you see inside your home are simply foraging for food, you won't see large numbers typically. Foraging ants can travel 100 yards from nest to food and can be simply found wandering throughout your house. However there can be indoor nest found in hollow doors, window sills, behind baseboards, or other natural hollow areas. Their damage usually indicates water damage and wood decay.

 

Recommended products and treatments

A good PERIMETER TREATMENT, as a defense, with a residual insecticide such as

  • DEMON or
  • SUSPEND on a consistent, quarterly basis would be a wise choice, stopping any new populations and other invading pests such as roaches,spiders..etc. Spray around the foundation of the structure, up around 2-3 feet as well as around the ground floor doors and windows. Spray in the garage and basement areas-along the baseboards. At times this will be all it is: foraging ants looking for food, but not living inside any internal structure. Both of these products will give you about a 3 month protection, sometimes longer. The Suspend is a liquid and the Demon WP is a wettable powder..they both work well for all kinds on surfaces. Also a general baiting of the grounds with a bait like
  • ADVANCE CARPENTER ANT GRANULAR BAIT would be a good choice to prevent further populations, from coming inside.
    This outside bait is designed for many types of ants..and works well with carpenter ants and will hold up outside. The foraging ants will find the baits , and feed it to the colonies, distributing it. It is important not to put insecticides(liquid or granualted) in the same areas of ant baits.

 

Ant trails and baiting:

An excellent article about Ant Trails and Baiting (by Univ. of Florida Extension Service) gives an overview of management with baits.

Treating these ants effectively depends, most of the time upon finding the nests and treating them directly, to eliminate the entire colony.This is the best way.

If you are not sure of where the colonies are to treat them directly...BAITING is the best alternative.

Inspect wooden structures associated with high moisture., where there may be water damage-producing softened wood. They like windows and door frames and sills, as well as tub enclosure walls, and kitchen and bath plumbing walls. Many times you can observe carpenter ants more after sunset, when there activity is increased, particularly in the spring and summer months. You may want to use a flashlight to observe any obvious trails and patterns.

 

The recommended treatment for these ants would be a baits,like:

ADVANCE CARPENTER ANT BAIT and MAXFORCE CARPENTER ANT GEL
It is important to remove other competing food sources that could interfere with the carpenter ants not taking the bait..but wanting the other food materials.

However if you can determine where their nests are you can use an aerosol with a crack and crevice tip such as:

INVADER
Or a residual insecticidal solution such as :

DEMON WP or

SUSPEND to spray directly to their nest, killing the queen or queens thereby eliminating the whole population, making the treatment quicker, however, it is not recommended that you use a liquid insecticide in a wall void. You can treat wall voids and other hidden spaces where ants are entering by carefully drilling a series of small (1/8 inch) holes and dusting the area with a residual insecticidal dust such as:

DELTA DUST ,providing a long term residual ,or using an aerosol with a crack and crevice tip. If you do susupect the nest is in a wall, drill and treat at least 2-6 feet on either side of where ants are entering in order to maximize the opportunity to contact the nest directly, getting the queen. ALWAYS use areosols or dusts. NEVER use liquid insecticides or metal tipped devices around any electrical outlets.

ADVANCE GRANULATED CARPENTER ANT BAIT would be a good choice for exterior control, placing it around their activity. The foraging ants would take the bait back to the colony, killing the queen.
We also carry:

ANT CAFES , that are plastic bait statitions to place the bait inside, keeping it dry and making it difficult for children and pets to get inside.
Many times you can have simply foraging ants coming inside from the outside(remember that they can forage a long way)-this happens in very wooded areas, on a seasonal basis...spring summer and fall months. If you have foraging ants coming inside from the outside, you can use a long-term, odorless residual insecticides called:

DEMON WP or SUSPEND, spraying all your entry points from the inside and outside. Spray around the foundation of the structure, up around 2-3 feet as well as around the ground floor doors and windows. Spray in the garage and basement areas-along the baseboards. At times this will be all it is: foraging ants looking for food, but not living inside any internal structure. Both of these products will give you about a 3 month protection, sometimes longer. The Suspend is a liquid and the Demon WP is a wettable powder..they both work well for all kinds on surfaces. Feel free to call us for further information or help.

 

Possible steps for Carpenter Ant prevention:

Correct moisture problems:, roof leaks,plumbing leaks, Cut back tree limbs or branches that could serve as a bridge to your structure. Seal cracks and openings around the foundation, especially where utility pipes and wires enter from the outside. Firewood needs to be stacked away from the house..elevated off the ground if possible. They love to nest in firewood.

Back to top of Subterranean TermitesBack to top

Fast and Free Shipping for orders