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Dry wood termites are yellow to pale brown in color. The bodies of primary reproductives, also
called swarmer’s or alates, vary by species from coal black to pale yellow-brown, with grayish wings that extend
past their bodies. Soldiers are pale to dark yellow and have large, visible jaws or mandibles.
Range from 3/8 to ½-inch in length.
Dry wood termites are social insects that live in highly organized colonies. The colonies are composed of
reproductives, workers, and soldiers. Small swarming flights, marked by the presence of swarmer’s, occur during
April through July, frequently after rains. These reproductive termites can be winged or wingless. Colonies are
small, can be widely dispersed and take years to mature.
Unlike subterranean termites, they do not require any contact with soil in order to thrive; they get the moisture
they need to live from humid air or by digesting cellulose from wood. For this reason, dry wood termites are most
common along humid coastal areas.
Indoor infestation is often detected by the presence of shredded wings from swarmer’s. The presence of small fecal
pellets, called frass, can be found outside of infested wood. The termites expel them through tiny openings in the
infested wood made by the termites for this purpose. Because of their ability to live in wood without soil contact,
dry wood termites may attack wood products of all kinds and may infest any dry wood portions of a house from the
foundation to the roof.
Dry wood termites create colonies in sound wood with low moisture content, with no connection to the soil. Unlike
subterranean termites, they cut across the grain of the wood, excavating large smooth chambers, which are connected
by small tunnels and “galleries”.
They can infest structural timbers and woodwork in buildings, as well as furniture and other wooden objects.
Entrance into wood is usually made from a crack or crevice, which the termite can enter before boring into the
Dry wood termites cause extensive damage to structures, often long before they are discovered. Termites are
responsible for more than $700,000,000 in costs to consumers in Florida each year for damage and control.
To protect your home from this destructive pest, you should remove wood piles and other cellulose sources from
under and next to homes. It is also helpful to seal exposed wood, especially cracks and holes, with a coating of
varnish, sealant or paint to prevent access to dry wood termites.
If the presence of dry wood termites is detected, cleaning up the fecal pellets found around a kick out hole and
checking a few days later to see if new pellets have appeared can help determine if an infestation is active.