How Are Delicate Drywood Termite Swarmers Able To Excavate Hard Lumber, And Do They Initiate Infestations Indoors And On Exterior Wood Paneling?

Unlike soil-dwelling subterranean termites, drywood termite colonies are located within natural and finished above ground wood sources, like dead trees, logs, telephone poles, wood fences, and structural lumber. Mature colonies contain a couple to several thousand individual termites that remain solely within infested wood, and only winged swarmers (alates) leave infested wood in order to start new colonies elsewhere. In many termite infestation cases, the emergence of indoor termite swarms is often the first sign that a home is infested, but it takes between 3 to 7 years of maturation before a drywood termite colony is able to produce swarming alates.

After around 2 years of colony maturation, indoor drywood termites construct small exit holes on the surface of infested lumber in order to discard excess excrement that accumulate in the colony. The presence of hard-textured fecal pellet piles (frass) on indoor surfaces indicates that drywood termites have established a colony in nearby wood. The origin of indoor fecal pellets is normally confirmed by the presence of nearby wood that has very small, but readily noticeable exit holes on the surface.

Subterranean termite infestations are usually easier to detect within a home than drywood termite infestations, as only subterranean termites build conspicuous mud tubes along concrete and masonry foundations in order to access indoor structural wood. Reproductive drywood termite alates, on the other hand, initiate infestations while swarming, so they can infest wood sources located anywhere indoors and on the exterior of structures. That being said, termite alates are extremely delicate creatures that are not able to plow directly into excessively smooth and hard wood surfaces; instead, drywood alates burrow into cracks in wood and other materials before constructing a small nest within. The most destructive drywood termite found in Ventura County, the western drywood termite, sees alates initiate new colonies within porous and/or cracked indoor and outdoor wood, plaster and stucco surfaces, particularly in vented attics and around door frames. Drywood termites may establish shelter within tiny cracks before tunneling into nearby wood.

Do you have your home inspected for termites annually?