Drywood termites are a species of termite that do not require contact with soil and get moisture from the wood they consume. Unlike subterranean termites, they do not build mud tubes or nests. Instead, they carve out galleries inside the wood as they eat. This makes them very destructive pests for homes and wooden structures.
What attracts drywood termites?
There are a few key factors that attract drywood termites to wood:
- Moisture content – Drywood termites prefer wood with a moisture content above 12%. Wood with higher moisture provides them with a water source.
- Cellulose content – They are attracted to wood high in cellulose as this provides them with food. Softwoods tend to have more cellulose.
- Dim lighting – They avoid bright light and are more active in dimly lit areas.
- Wood cracks/crevices – They will enter wood through cracks or crevices in search of food and shelter.
- Heat sources – The warmth given off by heaters, hot water pipes, etc. can draw them in.
Certain types of wood and certain areas around a home are more likely to attract drywood termites. Let’s take a closer look at what they target.
Favorite Wood Types
Drywood termites have preferences when it comes to wood type. Their favorites include:
- Pine – The high resin content serves as a moisture source.
- Fir – Contains more cellulose than other softwoods.
- Redwood – Naturally resistant to rot which allows galleries to persist.
- Oak – Dense structure is ideal for building sheltered galleries.
- Maple – Soft inner wood is easily excavated.
In general, softwoods like pine are more vulnerable as they contain more moisture and cellulose. Some hardwoods are also at risk, in particular oak. Cedar and cypress contain natural oils that deter drywood termites.
Vulnerable Areas of the Home
Certain areas of homes tend to be more susceptible to drywood termite infestations:
- Attics – Dry, poorly lit, and often have exposed wood.
- Wall voids – Contain wood structural elements like studs.
- Basements – Prone to dampness which attracts them.
- Crawl spaces – Similar conditions to basements.
- Sheds/garages – Less frequented areas with wood materials.
- Porches – Overhangs provide shelter and wood decking provides food.
They will also target other wood materials like framing, joists, cabinetry, and window trims.
Signs of Drywood Termite Infestation
To detect if drywood termites have infested wood, look for these signs:
- Small piles of powdery sawdust – Created as they excavate galleries in the wood.
- Hollow wooden surfaces – Damaged wood can sound hollow when tapped.
- Dead termites – You may find their discarded wings or bodies.
- Mud tubes – Not created by drywood termites but can indicate activity of other termite species.
- Pellets – Fecal pellets may accumulate in galleries.
Caught early, drywood termite damage may be limited to a single area or board. Advanced infestations lead to extensive structural damage requiring expensive repairs.
Preventing Drywood Termite Infestations
Here are some tips to avoid drywood termite problems in your home:
- Eliminate moisture sources – Fix all water leaks and avoid standing water.
- Improve ventilation – Prevent dampness which attracts them.
- Store firewood away from home – Don’t give them easy access.
- Use treated lumber – Treated woods deter infestations.
- Inspect regularly – Check susceptible areas for signs of activity.
- Get professional inspections – Have a pest control expert inspect annually.
Taking preventative measures is the best way to avoid costly drywood termite damage. But even with precautions, infestations sometimes occur. Regular inspections and prompt treatment when spotted gives you the best chance of getting rid of them before major damage.
How to Get Rid of Drywood Termites
If you discover drywood termites, take action right away to eliminate them. Here are effective treatment options:
Fumigating the entire home with sulfuryl fluoride gas is highly effective at killing drywood termites. It penetrates deep into wood to reach nests. The home must be vacated for 2-3 days during the process. Fumigation also eliminates other pests.
Small, localized infestations can be directly sprayed or injected with termiticides. This targeted approach avoids the need to fumigate the entire home. Available spot treatments include:
- Orange oil sprays – Made from orange peels, they kill termites on contact.
- Borate solutions – Penetrate wood and are consumed by termites, eventually killing them.
- Nitrogen gas injections – This non-toxic gas suffocates termites in their galleries.
With post-construction treatments, pest control technicians will drill into infested boards and inject chemicals. This precisely targets nesting areas.
Severely damaged wood may need replacement to fully eliminate their presence. This could include boards, framing, or other infested structural wood.
Carpenters can remove the damaged wood components and insert new treated lumber resistant to future termite ingress.
Prevention with borate wood
Replacing damaged wood with borate-treated lumber helps prevent recurring issues. Borates are impregnated into the wood during manufacturing. The natural mineral deters termites and kills those that ingest it.
Borate wood is more resistant to decay as well. Using it in vulnerable areas like porches and exterior trims can protect from future infestations.
Signs of Effective Treatment
After professional treatment, you want confirmation the drywood termites are gone. Signs the treatment was successful include:
- No new piles of sawdust appearing
- Absence of live termites in galleries
- Wood sounds solid when tapped, not hollow
- No evidence of new excavations
- Wings discarded after swarming disappear
Carpenters can also probe previous damage sites and use specialized cameras to inspect inside walls for evidence of live termites after treatment.
After eliminating drywood termites, ongoing prevention is key to avoid another infestation. Recommended measures include:
- Moisture control – Fix leaks promptly, improve ventilation in damp areas.
- Pest proofing – Seal cracks, crevices, and holes in wood siding.
- Simplified landscaping – Avoid wood mulches and trim back vegetation touching home.
- Professional inspections – Have annual termite inspections.
- Monitor trouble spots – Check previous infestation sites.
- Wood protection – Use borate or termiticide treatments on vulnerable woods.
With diligence, you can keep drywood termites from returning and damaging your home’s wood structures. But it requires dedicating time to pest proofing, moisture control, and monitoring for signs of new activity.
Cost of Treatment
On average, expect to pay the following for drywood termite treatments:
- Fumigation – $1,500 to $3,000
- Spot treatments – $300 to $1,000
- Wood replacement – $500 to $2,000
Severe infestations where much of the structural wood requires replacement can cost over $10,000. To keep costs down, get issues treated as soon as they are discovered before major damage occurs.
Here is a table summarizing the average costs for different drywood termite treatment methods:
|Treatment Type||Average Cost|
|Fumigation||$1,500 – $3,000|
|Spot Treatments||$300 – $1,000|
|Wood Replacement||$500 – $2,000|
DIY vs Professional Treatment
Some homeowners consider DIY methods for getting rid of drywood termites to save on the cost of professional pest control. However, DIY treatment carries risks:
- You may not eliminate the full infestation if nests are hidden.
- Improper chemical use can create hazards.
- Extensive structural repairs are usually beyond DIY skill.
- Proper treatment is guaranteed when using professionals.
For major infestations, fumigation and wood repairs should always be left to professionals. Minor spot treatments can potentially be DIYed using borate sprays or orange oil products.
The small savings of DIY treatment is generally not worth the reduced effectiveness and risks involved. Use certified professionals for the best results and safety.
Advantages of Professional Pest Control
Here are the main benefits of using professional exterminators vs. DIY treatment for drywood termites:
- Experienced identification of all infestation areas.
- Access to stronger and more effective insecticides.
- Ability to reach nests inside walls and structural voids.
- Better application for maximum extermination.
- Extensive repairs done properly and safely.
- Warranties and guarantees for work performed.
Utilizing a reputable pest control company gives you the best chance of completely eliminating drywood termites and correcting any structural damage caused by them.
Drywood termites target vulnerable areas of homes seeking moisture and wood food sources. They can cause major destruction if left unchecked. Stopping them requires controlling moisture, diligent monitoring, and prompt treatment at first signs of infestation. Professional pest control provides the knowledge and products to effectively eliminate them and prevent costly structural damage.
With vigilance and the help of experts when needed, drywood termites can be managed and your home’s wood elements protected from serious harm. Don’t delay treatment when these destructive pests are discovered.