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Fact vs. Fiction: Drywood Termites

|  July 10, 2013

Fiction: Termites are ants.
Fact: Ants belong to the order Hymenoptera and termites are classified with cockroaches in the order Blattodea. Winged ants and termites are called alates, which refer to the stage in their respective reproduction cycles when they become airborne to start new colonies.

The confusion arises because alate ants and termites often swarm the same time of year and in similar areas.

Fiction: If you find one colony of drywood termites, the whole house is infested. (Variation: If you only see one gallery, that’s the only one you have to worry about treating.)
Fact: Finding one colony doesn’t mean the entire structure is infested. On the other hand, it’s not unusual to find multiple colonies in a single structure. Only a thorough, professional assessment can tell you the extent of the infestation.

Fiction: If you find termite pellets, that’s all you need to see because pellets are always external.
Fact: A drywood’s infestation often is hidden. Additionally, galleries can accumulate pellets for long periods of time that aren’t dislodged until human activity forces them out.

Fiction: After fumigation you don’t need to worry about drywood termites anymore.
Fact: Fumigation eradicates active colonies at the time it’s performed. However, it leaves no residual, so the first alates nearby that discover the site will start the process anew. That said, pellets and debris might shake or fall out of previously treated areas for years, causing the customer to believe there’s active damage when there’s not. Regular, thorough evaluation by a competent professional is a customer’s best peace of mind. pmp

You can reach the McGoverns at jeffreymcgovern@mindspring.com

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