The western drywood termite, Incisitermes minor, is a real nuisance in more temperate regions of the United States. It is a native insect that has been an active decomposition helper in natural settings but with an increasing human population, their diet has shifted to more desirable things like homes and belongings. Hence, it is known as a pest.
They are difficult to detect and the extent of damage already harder. Drywood termites love to hide thorough inside wood away from sight so they are difficult to detect. There are periods when they swarm or they can be exposed during renovation work but otherwise they are rarely seen. The good news is that the colonies are usually small (fewer than 1,000 termites), and can take years to mature. The best clues to an infestation are if they swarm or the presence of fecal pellets which look like sawdust at first to peek briefly. However, close inspection will show that this sawdust is very specific, 6-sided pellets that are grouped in piles outside of ‘kick-out’ holes. already termites don’t like to soil their habitat.
Their kick-out holes (great scientific name) are about the size of a BB shot and again, a pile of fecal pellets rests below these holes if the termites are active. A good idea is to remove the sawdust you see then check back in a few days. If additional fecal pellets appear, the drywood termites are having a party.
Treating for drywood termites depends on the level of damage. Local or identify treatment can do the trick for small infestation and bad infestations can run the gamut from complete fumigation by demolishing the structure. Heat can also be used but is hard to ensure adequate heat and other belongings can be ruined in the time of action.
Interesting trivia about drywood termites – they typically burrow horizontally, not vertically. So if you see small kick-out holes in a fence post, they’re in pretty cramped quarters compared to those who find wood siding on a house.
There are some green pest control products obtainable for treating drywood termites that homeowners can use themselves. Using a syringe or injector, small amounts of the pest control product can be squirted into the fecal ejection sites until you can squirt no more. Then use a small piece of scotch tape to plug the hole and do the termite busting work.
In the event that you have lots of kick-out holes suggesting serious damage, it would be prudent to do some wood removal until you see no more damage. Hopefully, your keen eye in search of the tidy piles of termite poop will stop the madness early on.
Keep in mind that other wooden items such as furniture, clocks, cabinetry, etc. can be the fancy of these wood eaters. Just be on the lookout for those holes… For drywood termites, outside decomposition is a much better gig.