Drywood Termites are social insects that live in dry dead wood. They are cryptic creatures feeding across the grain of dead wood like the structural lumber in homes. Drywood termites consist of a king and queen, nymph workers and soldiers. During the months of August through November especially during heat waves a well established colony will produce Termite (Alate reproductive) swarmers which fly during the day light hours. When swarmers fly out they break their wings off pair up with a king and queen and try to burrow into a piece of wood where they will start a new colony. The queen will produce a few eggs where they will develop to immature nymphs and then adults. The first few years the colony is low in numbers. After 3 to 5 years the colony could have as many as 300 to 1000 termites. At 7 to 10 years a colony is usually large enough to expand to new colonies where they produce swarmers. Swarmmers can be confused with swarming ants. They can be differentiated by a pinched waste for ants with two pairs of wings different sizes where the termite swarmer has no pinched waste and equal sized pair of wings.
Drywood Termites live inside wood for the total time of their life. They feed on anything that has cellulose, books, cardboard, paper on drywall covering, tree stumps, and construction lumber. Drywood termites prefer feeding on 10 percent moisture content soft woods. A common misconception is they won’t consume hardwoods or redwoods. Although, some woods have a resistant property like redwood it still can be attacked by termites. Termite workers consume the wood that is then digested by small single cell protozoa inside the termite gut that allows the termite to get the nutrients needed for survival. After the protozoa extracts the nutrient the rest of the wood is pushed out in the shape of a small elongated (pellet) piece of wood with 6 hexagonal ridges on it. Sometimes American Cockroach droppings and be confused with Drywood termite droppings or pellets and are distinguished by the absence or presents of the hexagonal ridges. Termites eat 24 hours 7 days a week. Although, it would be hard to speculate how fast and how much damage a termite colony can do, what is known is that the more time a termite colony has to grow in size the damage can happen exponentially. It is estimated that termites damage 5 billion dollars a year.
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