Difference Between Drywood & Subterranean Termites

termites near hawaii homeEvery year, property owners in the U.S. spend more than $5 billion dollars fighting termites. Some states battle drywood termites. Some states battle subterranean termites. And some have the misfortune of battling them both. Hawaii is one of those states. As it turns out, the temperate climate here in Hawaii doesn't just make this the perfect tropical island getaway for travelers from all over the world, it also presents the perfect environment for termites of all species to thrive. But drywood termites and subterranean termites are quite different. Here are some important differences you should be aware of.

How do subterranean termites and drywood termites relate to moisture?

Subterranean termites are moisture pests. For this reason, they live in soil, or almost entirely inside the wood they are feeding on, making it extremely hard to detect these destructive insects. In rare circumstances, damage caused by subterranean termites may be seen, but it is only in areas that are well shaded or high in moisture, such as between a shrub and an exterior wall, or behind a stack of construction materials. Resisting subterranean termites begins with a reduction of standing water and moisture around a structure.

Drywood termites don't require the moisture that subterranean termites do. These termites can live in wood with low moisture and are prone to attack harder summer wood. But, they can chew across wood grain and damage spring wood as well.

How do subterranean termites and drywood termites attack a home?

Subterranean termites attack structures from the soil. A worker termite can tunnel through the ground as much as the distance of a football field in search of wood to feed on.

Drywood termites can attack homes from the air. When swarmers land on a home, they can get busy chewing their way in. They need no contact with the soil.

What signs do subterranean termites and drywood termites leave?

Subterranean termites leave mud tubes on the walls of a structure. They need these tunnels to get from the soil into the wood of a home, unless they are able to find an area where the wood of a home touches soil. If you have a spot like this, you may see subterranean termite damage near the soil.

The primary way you're going to notice drywood termites is by the frass they leave on window sills, floors, and other surfaces. This frass looks like sawdust, but it isn't. Drywood termites consume wood. They don't push it out of their tunnels like carpenter ants. This frass is actually their droppings. These pepper-like droppings and the tiny kick-out holes they were pushed out of will be your biggest sign that drywood termites are in your home.

What threat do subterranean termites and drywood termites pose?

Subterranean termites are the most destructive termites in the United States, especially Formosan subterranean termites. These termites grow large colonies and can feed for many years without detection. When they get into a home they can cause support beams to weaken, walls to warp, and ceilings to sag. Left uncontrolled, this damage can cause a structure to become unlivable.

While drywood termites are a lesser pest threat in other states, here in Hawaii, they are able to present a significant threat to homes. These termites can establish multiple colonies in a home and feed on sound pieces of wood. They are also a threat to hardwood items in a house, such as furniture, banisters, molding, and frames.

What control measures are needed for subterranean termites and drywood termites?

Since subterranean termites come up from the soil to attack, it is possible to control these pests with a bait solution. This control method uses the natural behavior patterns of worker termites against their own colony. When workers find the bait, which is scientifically proven to be more desirable than their primary food source (wood), they take it back to their colony and share it. This method not only stops invading workers, it destroys the colony that sent them.

Drywood termites live almost exclusively in wood. This makes them hard to get to and hard to control with baits or chemicals. That is why we use fumigation as the primary means for arresting termite infestations. But fumigation isn't always necessary, or ideal. When focused measures are needed, we use borate treatments or Orange Oil. These are targeted methods that are effective and eco-friendly.

If you live here in Hawaii, and you need help protecting your home from either of these termite types, Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions has the most comprehensive, eco-friendly, and effective solutions. Contact us today for immediate assistance.