The Highly Destructive Powderpost Termite Is Common In Louisiana Despite Being Completely Absent From The Natural Environment

Cryptotermes brevis, or the powderpost termite, as it is more commonly known, is the most widespread and important drywood termite species in the world. This species is abundant in the West Indies, and it was accidentally introduced into the US where the most significant populations can be found only in Florida, Hawaii, and of course, Louisiana. This makes the powderpost termite one of only two non-native termite species in Louisiana, the other being the Formosan subterranean termite.

Powderpost termites are unique, as they are found only within infested structures, and never within the natural environment. Although not well known among the public, powderpost termites are economically significant drywood termite pests in Louisiana, as they are well known for inflicting severe damage to floors, structural wood, furniture, and wood items. Recent research suggests that there are actually two powderpost termite species that are well established in Louisiana structures.

While the powderpost termite is abundant in tropical regions around the world, experts are not sure as to where this species originated. According to one study, powderpost termites have been intercepted 47 times in cargo ships at several US ports over a 4 year period. At one point, a cargo ship arrived in the US only for inspectors to discover that powderpost termites had infested more than 70,000 square feet of space on board. In order to eradicate the infestation, pest control managers had to use 282 pounds of fumigant gas to kill the termite pests.

Just like all drywood termite species, powderpost termites dwell in above ground wood sources, and do not make contact with the ground soil. While all drywood termite species are able to infest wood that has a relatively low moisture content, powderpost termites are even more tolerant of dry wood sources than most other termite species of their kind. Also like all other drywood termite species, the presence of fecal pellets below infested structural wood and single wood items is usually the first indication that the pests have established an infestation. However, unlike other drywood termite pests, powderpost termites are known for using their feces to build tubes that allow the pests to bridge additional wood sources. This odd ability explains why powderpost termites are particularly destructive within homes. Powderpost termites reduce wood to a powdery material that collects below infested wood sources, and their feces are also powdery in texture. Fumigations are usually necessary in order to eradicate powderpost termites from infested structures.

Have you ever heard of powderpost termites?

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