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Drywood Termites

Danger/Damage

The western drywood termite infests sound and dry wood in human-made structures. Drywood termites are found on the West Coast, Florida, and Hawaii, but they can extend east to Texas and the Carolinas.


Did you Know?

Drywood termites thrive in hard, dry wood found inside a home, including structural timbers, furniture, picture frames, and banisters. They do not make colonies under the soil or require any aboveground moisture source. They can extract necessary water from the wood they ingest.


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The size of drywood termites depends on their age, ranging from 1/4 inch ( 6.35 mm) to 1 inch long ( 25.4 mm). Adult drywood termites have a thicker, oval-shaped waist, short legs, and straight antennae with equal-length wings. They are usually cream-white to light brown and have six legs.


Drywood termite 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 they are found in trees such as rose, almond, apricot, ash, cherry, citrus, and walnut. They infest sound and dry wood in human-made structures, furniture and other wooden items.

Although they do not require as much moisture for survival as other termites, they can also be found in wood near a water source like a leaky pipe or water heater. Drywood termites are found in the southern tier states, from North Carolina through the Gulf Coast and into the coastal areas of California.

Compared to subterranean termites, drywood termite colonies are small with only a few thousand individuals. Infestations, therefore, are often found localized in the trim around a window or in a door, or even a wooden picture frame.


Alates are winged male and female termites and are the only caste that, during dispersal flights, leave 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 in warm indoor locations such as water heater closets. In Florida, dispersal flights (all recorded indoors and during daytime) have occurred in all months except December with 50 percent of the flights occurring in September, October, or November. Upon landing, alates drop their wings. The wingless alates crawl about in search of a mate and, if one is found, the pair mate. Now referred to as the king and queen, they remain mates for life. The couple rest for months and then the queen starts laying a few eggs. It takes several years for enough individuals to form in the nest for an infestation to be detected.


  1. Termites are found in almost every state as well as Mexico and parts of Canada.
  2. Termites eat wood and may also destroy paper products such as books, cardboard boxes, furniture, and various other items. Even buildings with steel framing and masonry walls are targets because of the wooden doors, window frames, support beams, cabinets, and shelving.

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

No, they do not require any contact with the ground.

How can drywood termites be avoided?

Drywood termites can be avoided by storing firewood and scrap wood at least 20 feet from the home. Another drywood termite treatment tactic is to seal all cracks and crevices around the foundation of the home. Homeowners should also routinely inspect the property for signs of drywood termites, paying attention to window and doorframes, trim, eaves, siding, and attics.

What are some general termite prevention tips?

Regardless of the species, termites are destructive and can cost you lots of money in unexpected home repairs if left to their own devices. Here are a few tips to prevent termites from wreaking havoc on your home:

  1. Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home including entry points for utilities and pipes.
  2. Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  3. Repair leaking faucets, water pipes, and AC units that are on the outside of the home.
  4. Repair fascia and soffits and rotted roof shingles.
  5. Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the basement foundation and windows.
  6. Store firewood at least 20 feet( 6.096 m) away from the house and 5 inches ( 12.7 cm) off the ground.
  7. Routinely inspect the foundation of your home for signs of mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source), cracked or bubbling paint, and wood that sounds hollow when tapped.
  8. Direct water away from your house through properly functioning downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks.
  9. Keep mulch at least 15 inches (38.1 cm) from the foundation.
  10. Monitor all exterior areas of wood, including windows, doorframes, and skirting boards for any noticeable changes.

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