Western Drywood Termites
Facts, Identification & Control
SCIENTIFIC NAMEIncisitermes minor
APPEARANCEIncisitermes minor is the most common species of drywood termite infesting structures in the Southwestern portion of the United States. These termite swarmers (alates) are dark brown with smoky-black wings and a ½-inch long body. Soldier termites have a large, brown-colored head and two large mouthparts that look like teeth extending well beyond the head.
Often, drywood termites are identified by the damage they cause. Their damage can be described as looking like the termite has eaten across the wood grain, not with the wood grain. Also, their galleries are very smooth and without soil. Generally, they produce fecal pellets that are hard, small (less than 1/32-inch long), have rounded ends and are oval shaped with six concave sides. These pellets are excreted from the wood by being pushed out through kick-out holes located in the infested wood.
BEHAVIOR, DIET & HABITS
Western drywood termites do not live in the ground, do not build mud shelter tubes, and survive very well in non-decayed wood that has very little moisture content. Colonies in the wood they infest are generally small in size, approximately 3,000 individuals even after over 10-15 years, when compared to subterranean termite colonies. A distinctive characteristic of these termites is the lack of a worker caste since the nymphs perform all tasks typically done by workers.
Winged reprductives emerge during daytime hours beginning in late September and lasting through November, except in areas with warmer year-round temperatures. Inside warm interior environments, swarming can take place as early as April. Swarming occurs when the winged reproductives emerge from exit holes in the infested wood. When swarming, they often infest other wood within the same structure and will typically first infest exposed wood such as window/door frames, trim, eaves and attics.
SIGNS OF AN INFESTATION
The first evidence of a drywood termite infestation is usually piles of brownish fecal pellets below kick-out holes. Other infestation signs are the presence of winged reproductive adults and their shed wings, plus blisters on the surface of infested wood.
The Western drywood termite’s distribution covers the southwestern states, especially Arizona and California. However, since travel and commerce can easily transport drywood termites, isolated infestations may show up throughout the United States. While distribution by these means occurs, this species has failed to become permanently established in the areas outside its normal southwestern and Pacific coastal range.
Drywood termite inspections and control efforts are labor intensive and exacting. Therefore, always contact your pest management professional to identify whether you have a termite problem and, if so, which termite species has invaded your property. If you need termite control, your pest management professional will recommend the products, methods and techniques that will be most effective and efficient for your home. In addition, your pest management professional will suggest that your termite control program also include an annual termite inspection.
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Termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in damage each year and most insurance plans don’t cover the damage.
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