Can Drywood Termites Spread To Multiple Pieces Of Lumber In A Home’s Timber Frame?


Of the three types of termites, subterranean drywood and dampwood, subterranean termites are easily the most damaging and economically costly of the three. With the exception of Alaska where termites do not exist, subterranean termites are the most abundant and damaging termite pests in each state. There are several reasons to explain why subterranean termites are the most damaging. For example, subterranean termite colonies, such as eastern subterranean termites, live within colonies containing thousands to millions of foraging workers. The invasive Formosan subterranean termite, which is abundant in all of Louisiana, can contain at least 50 million termite workers. Subterranean termites also maintain a widespread habitat below the ground, and interconnected termite colonies can cover several square miles of land, giving them easy access to timber-framed houses above. Drywood termites, on the other hand, live in colonies that only contain hundreds to thousands of workers, and unlike their subterranean counterparts, drywood termites are not soil dwellers; instead, they are only able to inhabit one wood item at a time. For example, drywood termite colonies dwell within wooden logs where they also feed, and new colonies are established elsewhere only when swarming alates emerge from a wood item. However, researchers have long wondered whether or not drywood termites can infest multiple pieces of lumber that make up a home’s timber frame.

According to researchers, multiple colonies of C. brevis, more commonly known as west Indian drywood termites, can infest one single wood item, or in this case, once single piece of lumber. Traditionally, it has been assumed that drywood termite colonies maintain a presence within single lumber pieces only, as infested lumber does not show exit holes where the termites may move to new lumber components of a timber frame. In an effort to determine whether or not these drywood termites can move to new pieces of lumber within a home’s timber frame,  researchers allowed drywood termites to infest a single wood component on a shipping pallet. The results showed that up to eight colonies can become established in a wood pallet, and most importantly, each colony could move from one piece of lumber to another by traveling through juncture points that cannot be observed by pest control inspectors. Therefore, drywood termites, contrary to popular belief, can spread throughout a home’s timber frame one piece of lumber at a time. This finding makes drywood termites a greater threat to a home’s structural integrity than previously thought.

Did you known that multiple drywood termite colonies could infested one single piece of wood?



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