Drywood Termites are small brown or red colored insects that are commonly unnoticed by the homeowners. These termites come from the family of ‘Kalotermitidae.’ Their behaviors and ecology are distinctly different from other termites of the same category.
Biology and Life Cycle
Like all the other termites, Drywoodtermites are social insects and form colonies. Alates are flying forms that form a group and fly out during certain parts of the year. This is known as swarming. Responsibilities of colony defense, reproduction and hunting are divided among the castes: soldiers, reproductives (alates, king and queen), and workers. In Drywood termites, immature members do all the labor work. Except the reproductives, all the Drywood termites are blind. Workers form a major part of the colony. As with other termites, a pair of reproductive drywood termite (a king and a queen) mate and form a new nest or colony is a proper environment like wooden roof shingles, sidings or eaves. After mating, the queen starts to lay eggs. When the recently hatched termites become capable of consuming wood, they form a wingless worker class that searches, is liable to the nest and provides food to other termites. It takes a lot of time, almost five or six years, for the drywood colonies to develop. Also, they prefer to live in dry wood above the ground. In fact, they do not require water as the wood that they feed on provides them enough moisture to survive.
As it is very difficult to distinguish the termite workers from each other, most of the termite keys are dependable on the alates and soldiers for the identification of species. Unfortunately, there are not much soldiers in drywood termite colonies. If they are present, they will have a brown head, will be larger than workers and will not have wings. The soldiers are around 3.5 mm to 5.0 mm in length. They have a black head and brownish yellow body with pale yellow legs and white antennae. Alates, the winged termites, are 8.5 mm to 9.7 mm long. The body and head are pale brown. The antennae are much longer than the head, with up to 10 to 14 segments. The wings of alates have some hardened veins that are quite clearly visible. They have long wings and the wind scale, the base from where the wings are attached to the body, is about the same length as the pronotum.
It is difficult to find visible signs of damage with drywood termites. Often, the only noticeable marks of infection are small amounts of feces below the verminous area or the presence of sling out holes in wood surface. These holes are usually very difficult to perceive because they are seldom open and their width can be as less as 1 mm.
Management of Drywood Termites
It is quite a difficult task to deal with infestations of drywood termite. Most of the time, these incursions can be prevented from spreading as the entire colony lives in a single piece of dry and sound wood. However, sometimes the swarm cannot be detected till the colony has developed and created alates who have, by that time, begun new colonies in the nearby wood. Restricted treatment of the first colony, then, will have no effect on the second, third and other subsequent colonies. Treatment for drywood termite can be divided into several types like local, such as a shelf, compartmental, such as a roof space, or the whole structure. Managements may incorporate different techniques like excessive temperature, fumigation, localized electrocution and wood injections. Each of them has their own positive and negative points. Preventive treatments are effective only if the infestation has been properly treated earlier.