Uninvited guests are always a challenge here in the Sunshine State- whether it’s insects or your aunt that won’t leave your guest room. Here’s a little bit of information about one of these unwelcome visitors, the drywood termite.
The drywood termite (genus Cryptotermes) refers to a group of termites that live within and feed on wood, as opposed to subterranean termites which have their colonies in the ground. One drywood termite in particular, the West Indian Drywood Termite, Cryptotermes brevis (pictured above), is widespread in the tropics and common in Florida. Drywood termites can be identified by looking at the wings of the alates. Alates are the reproductive stage, also known as swarmers. They have two pair of hairless wings with three or four dark veins on the leading edge of each wing. (Subterranean termites will have only two of these darkened veins.) The bodies are medium brown in color and just under a half-inch long, including wings. The alates fly from dusk until dawn and are attracted to lights. This behavior is usually noted between April and June, but we have been getting calls and specimens here at Extension with more frequency lately.
To check for damage within your home you will want to look for the following:
-A blistered appearance on wood.
-A hollow sound when wood is tapped.
-The presence of fecal pellets, or frass (pictured below, enlarged to show detail) found in piles. This frass is actually similar in size to coffee grounds, about 1-2mm.
If you suspect a drywood termite infestation, call a licensed Pest Control Operator for inspection. You may also begin by bringing a specimen to the Pinellas County Extension for identification and control information.