Western Drywood Termite Control: Protect Your Home
What Do Western Drywood Termites Look Like?
Size: Including the wings, western drywood termites can reach lengths of up to 1/2 inches.
Color: The head and thorax generally appear orange to brown in color, while the abdomen is dark brown or black.
Characteristics: Alates, which form the winged reproductive caste of termites, possess smoke-like tinted wings with dark veins, while members of the soldier caste have large mandibles that they use to protect the nest. Western drywood termites lack a true worker caste; the equivalents are instead called pseudergates, which literally means “false workers.” This caste lacks wings but can molt into any other caste, including alates.
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- Name: The western drywood termite (Incisitermes minor) lives up to its common name by inhabiting dry, dead wood.
- Location: Often found in furniture and sometimes in structural supports, western drywood termites form colonies that mature slowly and remain smaller in size than the colonies of other termite species.
- Entry: The pests infest homes by accessing various entry points, including attics and crawlspaces, cracks in window panes and door frames, soffits, and even knots in exterior siding.
- Distribution: More prevalent in the western part of the United States, the destructive insects have nevertheless been detected in eastern areas like the Mid-Atlantic region due to their distribution by human activities.
What Do Western Drywood Termites Eat?
Western drywood termites infest dry, undamaged wood in manmade structures, including furniture and other wooden items found throughout the home.
In nature, the insects feed on a variety of stumps, downed logs, and dead branches.
Particularly in urban areas, the termites may affect:
- Rose bushes
- Ornamental tress
- Fruit trees
Unlike the colonies of other termite species, western drywood termite colonies mature at a slow pace. While other species form colonies that end up containing millions of members, drywood colonies generally only number in the thousands.
Swarming occurs in late summer, typically on sunny days with temperatures of more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Relatively poor fliers, the swarming alates glide on the wind and land on or near a food source. Upon landing, they lose their wings, pair up, and mate for life.
The new king and queen find a crack or crevice in a piece of wood and excavate to begin laying eggs. Larvae mature through at least seven instars before becoming either soldiers or pseudergates. Western drywood termites enjoy a relatively long lifespan, and new alates typically do not leave the nest until the king or queen dies.
- Wall Damage: Check the walls for hollow sounds, which is evidence of tunneling.
- Swarming: In late summer, swarming activity indicates the insects will soon make new nests.
- Signs: Look for alates and fecal pellets on windowsills or around the home.
Problems Caused by Western Drywood Termites
- Common Infestations: Most infestations of western drywood termites occur in pieces of furniture, though some structural woods may also come under attack.
- Difficult Exclusion: The insects enter the home in a variety of ways, which makes exclusion difficult and leaves different areas of the structure vulnerable to infestation, especially during periods of swarming.
- Damages: In some areas, pleasure boats, barges, and other commercial vessels made of wood are at risk of drywood termite infestation.
Signs of Infestation
- Swarmers: Noticing alates during swarming periods may indicate that wooden structures and furniture in and around the home are in danger of infestation.
- Feces: The western drywood termite spends its entire life inside wood, constructing round holes where fecal pellets often accumulate below. Finding the hard, elongated pellets, which are light tan in color with rounded edges, is therefore a strong sign of a termite infestation.
- Damaged Wood: Knocking on infested wood will produce a dull, hollow sound indicating the presence of tunneling termites, as well.
Because colonies of western drywood termites expand and mature more slowly than those of other termite species, early detection remains critical.
- Early Detection: Detecting a termite colony before it has had time to produce a very large number of the pests can help prevent future problems and damages associated with the wood-boring insects.
- Reduce Entry: Sealing any cracks around window panes and door frames can also help prevent termites from infesting.
Tips for Removal from Home
The slower maturation rate of western drywood termite colonies means that infestations can go unnoticed for years.
Once an infestation is identified, removal typically involves contacting a trained pest management professional.
Call the Experts
Simply removing the infested wood can be beneficial, but to completely eradicate the infestation, a pest management specialist often needs to administer applications of targeted insecticides, such as termiticides.
Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.
Call for service: (877) 250-3857