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Termite Adventures

These are Drywood termites that were exposed once exterior wood pieces were removed. These “workers” are white to off-white in color and have no wings. While they do resemble "soldiers," their heads are shorter and their mandibles are not as pronounced.

Drywood termites literally infest dry wood and do not require contact with the soil. They tend to cut across wood grain destroying both the soft spring wood and the harder summer growth. Their functions are to gather food, enlarge the nest, and feed/care for the queen as well as younger/immature forms in the colony.

Drywood termites extract as much water as possible from the feces to conserve it. The result is very distinct fecal pellets (called frass). They are hexagonal in shape, and all are a similar size of 1 mm long. Appearance of mounds of black pellets indicate activity.

The Florida Building Code does not require a preventive treatment for Drywood termites for new construction. It DOES require a treatment for Subterranean termites.

Photo: National Pest Mgmt Association


Subterranean termites are a big problem in South Florida. A study by scientists at the University of Florida says the Asian and Formosan termites, non-natives that arrived in the past few decades, spread from the Keys through Palm Beach County. They come in large colonies (highest reports show as many as 1 million per colony) and wreak lots of havoc.

The Sun-Sentinel reports: The number of South Florida houses and other buildings within their [Asian and Formosan termites] range rose from .49 percent in 2000 to 7.3 percent last year, according to a study published in the journal Florida Entomologist. And South Florida is in "its early phase of invasion," the paper states, with half of all structures likely to be at risk by 2040.


Treatment for control of drywood termites consists of two main options: (1) structural fumigation; (2) localized or spot wood treatment.

Sulfuryl fluoride treats all infestations simultaneously and has high levels of efficacy, if correctly applied. Sulfuryl fluoride kills drywood termites within several days. A monitored fumigation, which involves installing gas monitoring lines inside the structure undergoing treatment, has the highest rate of treatment success.

The advantage of fumigation over localized treatment is that it should eliminate infestations hidden from view. It will also be necessary for the occupants, pets, and plants to vacate the structure for several days (depending on volume of structure and amount of gas injected) while it is being fumigated and then aerated. Additionally, roofs could be damaged as a result of having tarpaulins dragged across them.

Heat is a nonchemical option for whole-structure treatment. The treatment process involves heating all wood in the structure to a minimum of 120°F and holding this temperature for at least 33 minutes.

The benefit of heat treatment is the ability to treat the entire structure without using chemicals and the relatively short period of time the structure must be vacated—hours instead of days, as with fumigation. An additional advantage is that portions of large structures can be treated separately, which is very useful in apartments and condominiums.


This tree was found on the property about 5 feet from the house, so if these were Subterranean, then possible termite infestation may be below the home.

Affected trees would require removal, and the entire perimeter of the home would require treatment. The protocol for treatment for a situation like this requires drill and inject chemicals below ground (an estimated every 6- to 12-inches around the perimeter) by a licensed pest control operator.

According to, the most common way to apply these termiticides is by applying it in “trenches” that go around the infested structure and/or foaming it into the walls. If the structure is on a slab or cement foundation, it may be necessary to drill into the foundation slab and inject the termiticide beneath it.

After treatment, the perimeter of the home will require bait stations, and will need to be monitored periodically.

Here are some general termite prevention tips from our friends at Orkin Pest Control:

Eliminate Moisture Problems

  • Repair leaking faucets, water pipes, and A/C units

  • Divert water from foundation

  • Keep gutters and downspouts clean

  • Remove excessive plant cover and wood mulch

  • Get rid of standing water on roof

  • Keep all vents clear and open

  • Seal entry points around water and utility lines or pipes

Remove Termite Food Sources

  • Keep firewood, lumber or paper away from foundation or crawl space

  • Get rid of stumps and debris near house

  • Place screens on outside vents

  • Check decks and wooden fences for damage

  • Wood on your home shouldn’t contact the soil

Termite Warning Signs & Identification

  • A temporary swarm of winged insects in your home or from the soil around your home.

  • Any cracked or bubbling paint or frass (termite droppings).

  • Wood that sounds hollow when tapped.

  • Mud tubes on exterior walls, wooden beams or in crawl spaces.

  • Discarded wings from swarmers.

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