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 email@example.com or 515-333-8923.