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Most Wanted: Drywood Termites

|  March 5, 2015
Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Drywood termites (Kalotermitidae) have committed offenses through insidiously cryptic infestations. Attacks cause significant cellulose consumption, which causes structural and wood product damage.

⦁ Reproductives: They’re light yellow to dark brown or black with reddish heads. At maturity, they are approximately 1/8 in., including the wings they possess for flight to an environmentally appropriate location. The wings are shed quickly, and females and males pair to form potential termitariums. They form a pocket in the wood and plug openings. The female places eggs; the male remains.

⦁ Life cycle/Description: They undergo gradual metamorphosis. Soldiers are larger than reproductives; they’re wingless, and their mandibles have teeth along the inner edges. Nymphs perform colonial labor, including cleansing galleries, pushing out six-sided convex pellets consisting of feces and digested wood, and plugging openings. Some openings remain to serve as ventilation to control humidity.

⦁ Habitat: Wood within natural and man-made substrates.

⦁ Food: Cellulose conversion to glucose.

⦁ Range: Atlantic Coast, from Virginia to the Florida Keys, along the Gulf Coast, and the Pacific Coast to Northern California.

⦁ Significance: Colonies mature slowly, with a series of pockets connected by travel tunnels. They infest softer spring and harder summer woods. They cut galleries across the wood grain. Unlike subterranean termites, wood-to-soil contact isn’t required, because wood is invaded directly. Piles of convex pellets are evidence of infestation, as are cast-off wings. They can attack and damage structures, lumber, wood products and furniture.

Dr. Mitchell, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., B.C.E., a board-certified physician and entomologist, is principal technical specialist for PestWest Environmental, as well as PMP’s Technical Editor. He can be reached at docmitchell@northcoastmedia.net or 515-333-8923.

This article is tagged with and posted in Drywood Termites, featured, Most Wanted, Termites

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