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Drywood Termites


The western drywood termite infests sound, dry wood in human-made structures, as well as furniture and other wooden items. It is a tremendous pest in California and Arizona with an estimated annual economic impact of $250 million, mainly in damage and treatment costs. The western drywood termite will continue to torment homeowners, especially in newly developed areas in California. Further infestations are likely to be discovered in Florida.

Did you Know?

The western drywood termite, Incisitermes minor, is the most common structure-infesting drywood termite in the southwestern United States. Incisitermes minor also Kalotermes minor. That's why it is till sometimes referred to as Kalos and given letter K on termite inspection reports. Drywood termites do not require any contact with the ground.

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The western drywood termite alate has an orange-brown head and pronotum, and a dark brown abdomen. The wings are dark with a somewhat smoky tint to them. Alates are 07/16 to 031/64 inches long, including the wings. The soldiers ranging from 05/16 to more than 015/32 inches long, have large, reddish-brown head capsules that are heavily sclerotized. The mandibles are large and black with two prominent teeth visible on the inner margin of the left mandible. Drywood termites lack true workers, instead, they are called "pseudergates" or nymphs or larvae depending depending on presence or lack of wing pads and age. 

In Florida, Incisitermes minor has a spotty distribution from the Panhandle down to Miami and has been found on both coasts of the peninsula. So far, all the Florida infestations have only been found in structural lumber, not in natural wood. In California, it occurs naturally in oak and riparian woodlands, river washes and canyons with trees. Colonies are often found in the dead portions of several types of trees, stumps and dead branches on the ground. In urban and suburban areas, it is often found in trees such as rose, almond, apricot, ash, cherry, citrus, and walnut trees. It infests sound, dry wood in human-made structures, as well as furniture and other wooden items.

Alates are winged male and female termites and are the only caste that, during dispersal flights, leaves the colony. Alates fly during the day and in southern California swarm from late September through November. In desert areas, where average daytime temperatures are warmer, they may swarm as early as May. Swarming has been seen in April from warm indoor locations such as water heater closets. In Florida, dispersal flights (all recorded indoors and during daytime) have occurred in all months of the year except December with 50% of the flights occurring in September, October, or November. Upon landing, alates drop their wings. The wingless alates (dealates) crawl about in search of a mate and, if one is found, and mate accur, the pair, now referred to as the king and queen, remain mates for life. The couple rest for months and then the queen start laying few eggs. It takes several years till enough number of individuals in the nest to detect an infestation. 

Do Drywood termites require contact with the ground like Subterranean termites?

No they do not require any contact with the ground.

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