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  • Writer's pictureJon Stoddard

What is the Difference between Drywood termites and Subterranean termites?

Termites are some of the most dreaded pests that cause a lot of damage to homeowners. Their dietary requirements make them highly destructive, generating an estimated $5 billion in damages annually.

Termite infestation is common in Florida, especially in warm and humid areas such as Palm Coast, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, and the greater Daytona Beach area. This prevalence is because the atmosphere in these regions is favorable for termite breeding and proliferation.

There are about 2,750 species of termites in different parts of the world. However, only a handful of them notorious for causing damages in homes are regarded as pests. The most common among them are drywood termites and subterranean termites.

Some people tend to mistake these two species of termites for each other, but they have quite a couple of unique attributes that differentiate them from each other.

What Are Drywood Termites?

Drywood termites are not as common as subterranean termites, mainly because they require a habitat with high humidity; hence they live primarily in coastal regions like Ormond Beach. Drywood termites obtain all their water from the wood in which they live. Hence they live entirely within their wood host and consequently tend to have smaller colonies than subterranean termites. Due to this pattern of living entirely inside the wood, Drywood termites are more challenging to detect than Subterranean termites, and as such, they could go unnoticed for a longer time.

Also, unlike Subterranean termites, Drywood termites feed on both soft and hardwood. They consume summer and springwood. Their galleries inside the wood appear different from the galleries of subterranean termites.

What Do Drywood Termites Look Like?

Drywood termites and subterranean termites share a lot of resemblances. For instance, their colors usually range from white to brown or translucent. However, their body size is one of the most apparent differences between them, as Drywood termites are generally larger than subterranean termites.

Where do Drywood termites live?

Another apparent difference between Drywood termites and subterranean termites is their habitat. As early mentioned, Drywood insects live and build their nests entirely inside the wood, just as their name implies.

How Do I Know If I Have Drywood Termites?

The most common way to identify Drywood termite infestation is the presence of their fecal matter called frass. Frass is tiny specs of granular fecal droppings which Drywood termites excrete while foraging for food.

Unlike subterranean termites that use their excreta as part of their nest-building materials, Drywood termites usually create small holes inside wood through which they expel their fecal matter.

Seeing these things around the floor under a wooden structure is a potential sign of Drywood termite infestation. From afar, termite frass resembles sawdust, but on close inspection, they’re granular pellets of different colors depending on the kind of wood on which the termites live and feed.

What Are Subterranean Termites?

Subterranean termites are the most prevalent type of termite that infests buildings all over the world. Unlike Drywood termites that feed on soft and hardwood, subterranean termites only feed primarily on softwood, and while at it, they create and etch tunnels and grooves within the wooden structure.

What do Subterranean termites look like?

The worker stage of the life-cycles of Subterranean and Drywood termites look similar. However, their difference lies at their soldier and alate stages. The soldier subterranean termites have big yellowish-brown heads, while the color of the alates ranges from dark brown to black.

Where do subterranean termites live?

Subterranean termites live under the ground, unlike Drywood termites. Subterranean termites require moisture to survive, so they need to connect to the earth, which provides them the necessary unlimited humidity to create a favorable environment. In rare cases when there’s adequate moisture, they can also build their nests above the ground.

Signs of Subterranean termites

Subterranean termites build mud tubes through which they move from the ground to their source of food. These mud tubes protect the termites from predators and also provide the humid environment they need for their activities.

Mud tubes are the most common visible sign of subterranean termite infestation. They’re made from a mixture of saliva, wood, feces, and soil. They’re commonly found along the foundation of a property. However, you can also find them on the exterior of wooden structures and walls inside a building.

Termite infestation is quite difficult to identify, and the infestation may go on for so long before homeowners finally notice it. However, it is necessary to know the difference between these two species of termites. Knowing their peculiar features can help you protect your home and identify infestation on time. Having a WDO inspection performed on an annual basis is a great way to keep up with termite identification before extensive damage appears.

If you have noticed or suspect that termites may infest your property, you need to hire professional pest control experts to check the property and exterminate them. Contact us now to help you inspect and eliminate termites and other insects from your property.


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