Size: Soldiers measure 3/8-inch in length; male and female reproductives grow to 1/2-inch long. During the winged stage there are four equal size wings that extend longer than the body by 1/8- to 1/4-inch.
Color: Usually pale brown.
Drywood termites have soft bodies and are cylindrical in shape. They have six legs, compound eyes and chewing mandibles.
Drywood termites are social insects that live in colonies. The colonies are composed of kings, queens and soldiers. There is no worker caste as in subterranean colonies. The work is performed by immature termites before they become adults. King and queen termites perform the reproductive functions of the colony. They are light to dark brown and 1/3- to 3/8-inch in length. Soldiers guard the colony against invaders such as ants. They are pale, cream colored and wingless with large brownish heads and jaws. The nymphs (immatures), which are the most numerous caste, are pale, cream colored and wingless. The soldiers and immatures remain inside the wood at all times.
Drywood termites infest only dry wood and are most often found in attic wood framing as they do not require contact with the soil. They obtain moisture from the water produced by the digestion of cellulose. Winged reproductives fly from an existing colony, pair and fly to new dry wood areas, enter a small hole in the wood, and start to form a colony. Colonies will contain up to 2,500 members.
Tips for Control
There are some things a property owner can do to help prevent drywood termite infestation.
Store firewood and lumber away from the house.
Use 20-mesh screen on all windows and doors, and especially at ventilation openings for attics and crawl spaces.
Exposed wood that is sealed with a uniform coating of paint, varnish or other sealant will help prevent easy access by drywood termites. Be sure to seal nail holes and cracks.
Size: Worker: 1/8- to 3/8-inch in length. Soldier: Body is similar to that of the worker, but large, deck head with powerful mandibles. Supplementary Reproductive: About one inch in length. Primary Reproductive: About one inch in length.
Color: Worker: Pale, cream colored. Soldier: Light colored with brown head. Supplementary Reproductive: Light colored. Primary Reproductive: Dark brown/black.
Soldiers have an elongated head with pincer-like mandibles. Supplementary Reproductives have either no wings or very short non-functional wings, while Primary Reproductives have four wings of equal size until they are shed. Primary Reproductives are the termites most often seen in the open. They are commonly referred to as "swarmers."
This termite is known to swarm in spring, but small flights can occur at any time of the year. Swarming is the visible means that termites use to establish new colonies. As the colony grows, specialized castes are produced for the different tasks required. One caste produced is the workers. Another caste is the soldiers. And a third caste is the reproductives. Primary reproductives swarm and start new colonies. They are called alates or swarmers. Although thousands of primary reproductives may be produced each year, they all leave the nest. Supplementary reproductives, on the other hand, can become reproductive only in the colonies in which they were born. They assist the primary king and queen in population growth of the colony.
Subterranean termites live in colonies in the ground, building vertical tunnels that look like mud tubes above ground level so that they can search for food. Because subterranean termites will die if exposed to air for an extended period of time, the tunnels provide protection from the open air, allowing workers to carry food to the nest. Subterranean termites can form tunnels through cracks in concrete, so slab homes are not exempt from these termites. They need to stay in contact with the soil in order to survive, unlike drywood termites that only need low moisture.
Tips for Control
There are several things a homeowner can do which can help prevent termite infestations or make them easier to detect.
Store firewood away from the house.
Make sure at least four inches of the foundation can be seen all around the home. Siding should not extend into the soil. Mulch and soil should not touch the siding.
Make sure water drains away from the foundation to ensure water does not accumulate. Rain gutters are ideal; however, the downspout should direct the water away from the home.
Roof or plumbing leaks can allow termites to survive above ground in a house. These should be corrected as soon as possible.