Well, I could go into a long boring explanation of drywood termites and how their Latin name is Genera Kalotermes & Incisitermes, how they go through seven instars (stages between molts) before they reach adulthood, and how they live in wood with a moisture content of 12% or less. But I think most of us want to know the Reader’s Digest version and what kind of damage they can do to your homes.
The Drywood termite is the primary termite that we get called out on most of the time here in the High Desert of Arizona. The cycle starts when two alates (swarmers or winged termites) pair up and create a nuptual chamber in a piece of drywood. The Drywood termite colony tends to be slow growing and a lot smaller in size than the subterranean termite. The most distinguishing characteristic of the Drywood termite is the pellets. These are small granules of wood that they will push out of the nest through kick-out holes. The small granules are actually termite fecal matter – this is unlike the subterranean termite that has liquid fecal matter.
Drywood termites are a little harder to treat than Subterranean termites for the following reason. The Drywood termite lives within the piece of wood its consuming, unlike a Subterranean termite that relies on mud tunnels to commute back and forth between soil and structure. In a traditional subterranean termite job, the goal would be to treat the soil around the structure to basically cut off their route into the home with a chemical barrier. But since the Drywood termites don’t return to the soil, treating them in this manor would do nothing to them. The two primary ways to treat the Drywood termite has been threw fumigation and spot treating.
Fumigation is the process many refer to as tenting. It is when you basically wrap the structure to be treated in tarps. Once you have it airtight, you fill the structure with a sulfuryl fluoride gas (aka Vikane). The nice thing about this procedure is it kills everything. The downfall to this treatment is its very expensive and it has no residual in case there is a re-infestation. You also have to be out of the home when the treatment takes place. So there is also that to consider.
Spot treatment is basically the art of pin pointing an active colony and treating that area to kill the colony. There are several ways to accomplish this task – the most popular being foaming and spraying. I personally like to use products with either fipronil (aka Termidor) or imidacloprid (aka Premise). Both of these products are categorized as Non-Repellents so the colonies will continue to work in the treated areas. The workers will transfer the products through the colony by the termite’s natural socialization. The benefits of spot treating Drywood termites are it’s a lot cheaper than fumigation and there is a residual left behind to help prevent future infestation in that area. The downfall to this type of treatment is that it doesn’t treat the entire structure.
So if you live in the High Desert of Arizona and you think you have termites as a pest in your home, call a termite professional and have us properly identify them. We will go over your options with you and help you make the right decision.