Termites are the most significant insect pests of homes and buildings throughout Louisiana, particularly in New Orleans and other coastal cities where the uniquely destructive and invasive Formosan subterranean termite species is most prevalent. While this exotic termite species may be the most destructive pest of its kind in Louisiana, it is certainly not the only one, as a total of nine termite pest species can be found in the state. Of these nine termite pests, five species are subterranean termites that live in colonies located below the ground, while the other four are drywood termite species that inhabit colonies contained entirely with single wood items located above the ground.
Subterranean termites establish colony nesting sites in moist soil only, and exposure to the dry outside air will cause specimens to rapidly dry up and die. Due to their ground soil habitat, foraging workers from subterranean termite colonies only infest moist substructural wood sources from the ground up. Since drywood termites literally inhabit their food source, they have no need for foraging workers, but just like subterranean termites, drywood termites establish new colonies by means of annual mating swarms.
Mating swarms emerge from existing colonies for a month or two every year, and they are made up of winged reproductive termites known as “alates.” Most alates die before mating, but the very few that survive long enough to mate usually go on to become the queen and king of a new colony. Due to their dependence on moist soil and wood, Subterranean termite alates almost always establish new colonies in soil, but drywood termite alates always establish new colonies in wood items. In other words, foraging workers establish subterranean termite infestations in moist substructural wood, while winged alates establish drywood termite infestations within a variety of either moist or dry wood sources.
Formosan subterranean termites are an exception, as they are the only subterranean termites capable of establishing aerial infestations that are not in contact with moist ground soil. These elevated infestations are contained within carton nests that work well to retain enough moisture to meet the hydration needs of a Formosan subterranean termite colony. Since drywood termites see alates initiate infestations in dry wood sources while airborne, they can infest just about any wood source, including furniture. Drywood and Formosan termite infestations are often found within furniture items shipped to geographic locations well outside of their range. In Louisiana, the drywood termites that are found infesting furniture on occasion include western drywood termites, west Indian powderpost drywood termites, and southeastern drywood termites.
Have you ever owned a furniture item that became infested with drywood or Formosan subterranean termites?
Tags: Termite Control, Termite Inspection