How Do I Know If My Home Has Drywood Termites?
Here in Florida, summer means hot weather, lots of rain, and unfortunately for homeowners, lots of drywood termites. While you may not be able to see them causing damage with your own actual eyes, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Drywood termites eat your home from the inside out, making them hard to identify, and dangerous costly pests. As the experts in all things termite control, we’re happy to share our expertise on drywood termites.
What are Drywood Termites?
Drywood termites do not need the moisture of soil to survive and get their name because they live, feed and nest in wood that hasn't decayed yet. This wood is much dryer than decayed wood. They can be up to 12mm in length, and unlike other kinds of termites, they don't have a worker caste. This type of termite threatens your home because it does more damage to the entirety of your structure, not just the parts near the soil.
Most Common Signs of Drywood Termites
Signs of drywood termites:
- Sound of clicking noises
- Termite wings
- Sighting of "white ants"
- Hollow sounding wood
- Termite droppings
While all termites are dangerous, drywood termites pose the biggest threat to homes in Florida. Unlike other breeds, drywood termites actually build a colony and live inside the wood they’re feeding on. This means that they’re even harder to spot and can cause sizeable damage to the foundation of your home before you even notice their presence. This is why proactive termite control is so important for homeowners in Florida--you know what they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure--and this is especially true when it comes to termites!
While it takes a bit of a trained ear to identify, termites actually make quite a racket. From noisy eating to banging against the wood to alert the colony of danger, termite infestations can be detected by listening for clicking sounds in the wall.
Another common identifier is the presence of their wings. Since the colony requires swarmers to reproduce and grow the colony, flying termites, or evidence of their wings is a tell-tale sign of a drywood termite infestation.
Most people don’t realize it, but termites actually look quite similar to ants. The biggest differences? Termites have cream-colored bodies, straight antennae, and much thicker midsections.
While the goal is to catch termites before they get this far, a key indicator that you have a serious termite infestation is the sound of hollow wood. Because drywood termites eat from the inside-out, they leave a very thin layer of wood or even just the paint. If an area of your home sounds thin or papery when you knock on it, it could be the work of a drywood termite colony.
Beyond seeing the damage or the termites themselves, one of the most obvious signs of an infestation is the presence of frass. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites don’t use their droppings to build. Instead, as they work their way through your home, they excrete frass, kicking it out of the tunnel and onto your window sills, floors, and other areas of your home. This results in a dark powdery substance with small black marks built up around the infected area.
If you notice any of these signs in your home, contact us immediately! The sooner you can get a termite infestation under control, the less money you’ll spend on home repairs.
If you don’t think you have an infestation but want to prevent drywood termites altogether, here's what you should do:
- Build with termite-resistant materials: Spanish Cedar and Bald Cypress are naturally termite resistant and can save you lots of trouble down the line.
- Keep firewood & mulch away from your home: Store these items at least 20 ft away from the perimeter of your home.
- Remove old tree stumps and rotting fences: This also includes old sheds or wooden structures that may be on your property.
- Pre-treat your wood: If you're having a new home built, make sure to pre-treat your wood using termite-specific insecticide to prevent termites from ever entering.
- Schedule yearly termite inspections: Your best bet when taking a proactive approach is to make sure you have your home inspected every year! Contact Anti-Pesto to schedule your appointment today!
Because termites cause such serious damage, they should be dealt with as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Some common treatment options for drywood termites include:
- Fumigation: This treatment involves covering your property with a tent and releasing a predetermined amount of fumigant into the affected areas of the house.
- Heat Treatments: Heat treatments aim to heat up the affected area to a temperature that is deadly to termites. This kills the colony without the need for tenting and fumigation.
- Cold Treatment: Similar to heat treatment, cold treatment aims to kill the termites by controlling the temperature. Liquid nitrogen is administered to the affected area, lowering the temperature to a point not survivable by the infestation.
- Wood Injection: This method involves injecting insecticide into small halls that are drilled in the affected wood. This gets to the infestation at the source and kills them efficiently.
- Micro Electrocution Method: Electrocution can sometimes be used to treat termites. However, this method is dangerous and can cause property damage if not done correctly.
While there are DIY options for termite treatment, it takes a trained expert to identify the type of infestation you have and choose the appropriate treatment method. We do NOT recommend trying to handle a termite problem on your own. While you could be initially saving money with store-bought items, you do run the major risk of not eliminating the infestation and spending more money on repairs in the long-run.
Fumigation-Free Options for Termite Treatment
Here at Anti-Pesto, we offer a fumigant-free option to getting rid of termites in homes. We utilize Bora Care, an odorless, low-toxic treatment that kills termite colonies through a residual effect. Most traditional termite treatments involve tenting which require homeowners to leave their house for days at a time. With our “no-tent” process, there is no move-out, no damage to your roof or landscaping, no intensive prep, and best of all, absolutely no fumigants inside of your home!
This blog was written by the owner of Anti-Pesto Bug Killers, Howard Bright.