What is a Drywood Termite?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2019
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The drywood termite is a small insect which infests and feeds off of undecayed wood with very little moisture. Unlike other termite species, they do not need to make contact with the soil in order to survive. This means that they can live completely inside of wooden furniture, buildings, telephone poles, and other objects. When compared to other termite species, they cause less damage because their colonies are usually much smaller in size.

For a drywood termite colony to begin, a male and female insect burrow into a wood structure; often beginning inside a crack or crevice. The holes made when burrowing are filled in with a brown concrete like material. Once inside the female begins laying eggs, which hatch into young termites called nymphs. The nymphs grow into both soldiers and reproductive termites.

Drywood termites are found in the southeast and western United States, ranging from Virginia to Florida and then into Mexico and back up into California. Because it burrows into furniture and other movable items, the drywood termite may also be found in areas in which it doesn't normally reside if moved within an infested item. For this reason, people in all areas should be aware of the warning signs of this breed of termite, which can include holes in various locations on wooden structures, as well as brown sealant used to patch in entry holes.


Treatment for termites can be done in two ways: spot treatments and structure fumigation. Spot treatments should only be used where infestations are limited and at the first sign of termite damage. Areas where spot treatments may be appropriate are in furniture and telephone pole infestations. These treatments are done by drilling holes into the infested wood so that they go through the termite galleries and nests. Pesticides can then be forced through the holes, making sure that the holes do not become clogged. If this happens, the insects will likely burrow around the blocked passageways.

For buildings and other large infestations, a trained professional should be called in to fumigate. To do this, the building is covered with a fumigation cover and then gases are sprayed throughout the entire building. Only a trained professional is permitted to use these gases, so homeowners should not attempt to fumigate on their own. In order to prevent termites from recurring, yearly fumigation around the property may be advised. New buildings should also have a drywood termite fumigation during the building process to prevent an infestation.


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