Drywood termites produce wood-colored droppings as they eat through infested wood. If a homeowner finds a small pile of what looks like pellets inside or outside the home, it could be a sign of a drywood termite infestation.
According the The University of Florida IFAS/Extension:
Termites responsible for damage in Florida include drywood termites, dampwood termites, and subterranean termites. In this article, you will find helpful information focusing on drywood and dampwood termites. These termites differ from subterranean termites in that they form their nests and live inside their food source as opposed to nesting underground. Control and preventative measures can easily be taken to avoid an infestation. Information on subterranean termites can be found in the chapter, Subterranean Termites.
Termites are considered to be social insects, meaning they live together in societies called colonies. These colonies consist of soldiers for defense, reproductives, nymphs, and immatures known as pseudergates, or “false workers,” that perform most of the work of the colony.
Knowing the termite species you are dealing with is important because treatment measures are different depending on the species. These treatments can differ in cost, application method, and the product used.
Drywood termites typically infest sound or nondecayed wood in older homes. Places they can be found in a home include wood flooring, attics, wood frames, fascia boards, window sills, doors, and furniture. Drywood termites survive best at 60°F but have been reported in temperatures of 110°F. Initially, winged termites known as swarmers or alates will enter cracks and openings in wood to start new colonies. These termites have evolved to be able to survive in environmental extremes. This is important because, unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites cannot retreat to the soil when conditions are unfavorable. They have adapted very well to dry environments by having a more impermeable cuticle to retain body moisture. Also, they are more efficient at resorbing water from their excrement, or feces—a process that causes its characteristic pellet shape.
Dampwood termites infest wood with high moisture content. They do not need soil contact in order to sustain themselves, but are commonly found in wood with ground contact. They are commonly found infesting damp or decaying wood, logs, stumps, and dead trees, but will commonly attack structures exposed to moist soil and high humidity. Although dampwood termites can cause significant damage, especially in association with decaying fungi, they are considered to be the least economically destructive pest.
Signs of Infestation
A good way to know if there is a drywood termite infestation is from their six-sided fecal pellets, known as frass (Figure 1). These fecal pellets are removed from drywood termite nests through small “kick-out holes,” which are about 1 to 2 mm in diameter. These are normally found in mounds and have been described to look like sawdust or coffee grounds. These are usually light tan to almost black, but have no relation to the color of the wood the termites are feeding on. If rolled between your fingers, you will notice a gritty texture of the pellets, this is a way many pest control operators identify drywood termite feces.
To control drywood termites, your pest professional may apply Termidor® DRY Termiticide directly into termite galleries to treat drywood termites and termites in structures or objects not connected to your home. Unlike liquid applications, Termidor DRY does not add moisture to wood.
Peninsular Pest Control, the “Critter Gitter”, has been providing pest control, termite & lawn fertilization services to North Florida homes, businesses and hospitals since 1954.