Termites are social insects that form colonies. Drywood termites will live in sound dry wood that is located above the ground. These termites get the moisture that they need from the wood that they digest, because of this they do not need any contact with the soil. In structures, they prefer to nest under wooden roof shingles, eaves or siding.
There are three common species of drywood termites found in Texas (Incisitermies snyderi, Cryptotermes brevis, and Incisitermes minor).You can identify the species by looking at certain features of either the reproductives (swarmers) or solider termites.
Incisitermes snyderi are the most common species found. The reproductive termites are light yellow in color and are 7/16 inch long. The wings are clear, uniformly transparent uncolored. Their swarming tends to occur at night, and tend to swarm towards lights.
Cryptotermes brevis are similar in appearance to Incisitermes snyderi. The body of the swarmers for Incisitermes minor are 9/16 inch with dark bodies. Their wings are yellow, brown or colorless and will swarm during the daytime. For both species of Incisitermes, the soldiers are about 5/16 inches long with dark yellow-brown heads with strong mandibles. The head of the soldier for Cryptotermes brevis is square shaped, black in color with very short mandibles. The worker termites are smaller than the soldiers with soft, white bodies.
Signs of Infestation
The presence of winged reproductives is usually the first sign of a drywood termite infestation. They can be found swarming from small openings found in the surface of the wood. They will quickly lose their wings after swarming, but the wings are necessary for the proper identification of the termites.
If found within the structure, it is almost a sure sign that they are in the structural timbers of the building. If they are found outdoor, they may have come either from within the structure or from nearby timber or brush.
Because drywood termites live within the wood, they produce fecal pellets. During an inspection, you will notice piles of fecal pellets near the infested wood. The pellets are generally the color of the wood that they have been feeding on. The pellets are about 1/32 inches long. Under modest magnification, long dimples or flutes down each surface will be visible. The pellets tend to be blunt at one end and pointed at the other.
Damage to wood, though seldom apparent, definitely indicates a past or present infestation of drywood termites. These termites will consume both the harder summerwood and the soft spring wood of timbers. This leaves a smooth sculptured appearance to their galleries. Fecal pellets will be present in the galleries.
These characteristics can help distinguish drywood termite damage from that caused by other kinds of termites. Subterranean termites only consume the spring wood, which leaves alternating layers of damaged wood. The galleries will also contain soil. Formosan termites will also consume the summerwood, in addition to the spring wood. But unlike drywood termites fecal pellets will not be present.
Drywood termites are found throughout the state of Texas. However, the highest concentrations are found along the Gulf Coast.