Louisiana is home to eight destructive termite pest species, four of which are subterranean species that dwell below the ground, and the other four are drywood termite species that dwell solely within single pieces of above ground wood. Unlike subterranean termites, which see foraging workers infest homes from the ground up, drywood termite colonies do not contain foraging workers. This is because drywood termites live within their own food source, making foraging unnecessary. In order for drywood termites to spread to new areas, winged termites (alates) emerge from drywood termite colonies during swarming season in order to mate and establish new colonies as king and queen.
Alates usually establish new colonies within natural wood sources, like logs and tree stumps, but occasionally, they establish new colonies within the exterior and/or interior wood of houses. Since alates are fragile and cannot bore into wood as effectively as their nymphal offspring, they often nestle into superficial cracks and crevices on the surface of wood. Shortly after alates initiate a new colony, their first born nymphal offspring bore deeper into wood in order to accommodate new colony members. For example, many drywood termite colonies are first initiated on or behind siding, or in wood beneath shingles, and nymphal offspring expand the colony by boring deeper into wood, which often brings them into the interior of homes. In other cases, drywood termite alates fly directly into houses through open windows or attic vents where they initiate a colony in structural wood or finished wood items, like furniture.
Since drywood termite colonies are located within single wood items, while subterranean termite colonies are located in the ground where foraging territory is basically infinite, drywood termite colonies are naturally much smaller than subterranean termite colonies. Generally, mature drywood termite colonies contain a few thousand individual termites, while mature subterranean termite colonies contain anywhere from 20,000 to well over 1 million individual termites. Due to their smaller colony size, drywood termites do not inflict damage to wood as rapidly as subterranean termites, but drywood termite infestations are more difficult to detect, as they can be located anywhere on, or within a home.
Have you ever noticed signs of a drywood termite infestation in your home?