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Drywood termite

Size: 1/2 inch

Color: Reddish

Where found: Within wood beams

Potential treatment: Interior

Drywood termites are about 1/2 of an inch long and live inside wood. Their colonies tend to be small, with only a few hundred to a few thousand, and they generally are not visible to a homeowner until they reach the swarmer stage, which can take four years or more.

The swarmers in a drywood termite colony have two sets of wings, which they shed after they swarm. This is when homeowners usually notice them, often in the form of shed wings on window sills. The soldiers have large mandibles with teeth. In general, the drywood termite is larger than the more common subterranean termite.

Drywood termites are more often a problem in southern, humid areas because they live in wood with no contact to the ground. They get whatever moisture they need from the air. Their diet consists strictly of wood, with occasional cellulose material, such as books, dried plants and furniture.

Once a colony has a queen, she can lay eggs rapidly. The eggs hatch in about a month, and the nymphs develop through 7 instars, or phases, before becoming adults. At adulthood, swarmers leave to form new colonies.

Although drywood termites are less widespread than subterranean termites, they can cause significant damage to structures long before they are noticed by the homeowner. These pests eat into wood structures both with and against the grain, forming galleries that leave a very thin layer of wood. An infestation may be noticed because of fecal pellets that they will kick out of the galleries through tiny holes. These may appear to be tiny black and tan stones.

A professional inspection is recommended to determine the type of termite infestation and treat it before they can cause serious structural damage.