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Drywood termites live in dry, sound wood and derive their moisture requirements from the wood they consume. Infestations can occur in structural timbers in buildings, pieces of furniture, flooring, doors and doorframes, window trim, wooden picture frames, and other isolated pieces of wood. Drywood colonies are usually relatively small with a few thousand members (subterranean termite colonies may number in the 10,000's to even millions). However, a structure may house multiple drywood colonies in the same structure.
Drywood termites do not need a connection to soil. They construct large, irregular tunnels that run across and with the wood grain, connected by openings small enough for one termite to pass through. The sure sign of Drywood termite feeding is their fecal pellets, which are ejected from the galleries found within the damaged wood. These pellets are quite distinctive: they are hard, elongated-ovals with rounded ends, and have six concave sides.
There are a few important facts you should understand about the behavior of Drywood termites compared to subterranean termite species:
Approximately 400 global species of Drywood termite species are known, but only a few species are important in the United States.
Powderpost or "furniture" termites are smaller in size than other Drywood termites. Their feeding in furniture or movable wooden objects can reduce wood to a fine powder. They can be found in Florida, southern Louisiana, Texas, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. They mainly infest furniture or structural timber.
The Western Drywood termite is found in southern California, Arizona, Utah, and has become established in Florida. This species infests both dead sections of living trees and wooden articles in homes. The Western Drywood termite swarm period may be midday on warm, sunny days and may occur from September-October. However, in Arizona, swarming may occur at night in July.
The Southeastern Drywood termite is found primarily in seven southeastern states, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. This species may swarm at night, peaking between 8-10 pm, and is attracted to lights. The peak time period for swarming may be late May through mid-June.
The Desert Drywood termite occurs mainly in AZ and CA in more arid areas. They can readily infest structures and may swarm at dusk/night, usually after a rain event during May to early Sept. The swarmers are also attracted to lights.
Termites are most visible to homeowners when they're swarming. Still, without proper defense, termites can be damaging a home 365 days of the year. In fact, you could have an active termite infestation in your home and never see a swarm.