About Wood Destroying Organisms

Drywood Termites

drywoodDrywood termites form colonies. They fly out in great numbers from mature colonies at certain times of the year. This process is called swarming. Unlike subterranean termites, the drywood termites form colonies within the wood itself rather than in the soil below. Since drywood termites live within their food, they must find ways to remove waste from their colonies. Drywood termites make small holes in the wood they infest and occasionally kick out fecal pellets. Piles of pellets usually accumulate under these openings. Since drywood termites form small colonies, the biggest problem is finding the nest location. The location of a colony is, oftentimes, in inaccessible areas such as the interior of hollow walls or the areas between floors in a multi-story building. Drywood termites can chew away wood until only a thin film of paint separates them from the environment. Piles of fecal pellets are great indicators of an infestation and are usually located under a kick out hole.

Subterranean Termites

sub-termiteSubterranean termites are social insects that live in nests or colonies in the soil, hence their name “subterranean.” It is important to be able to distinguish between swarming termites and ants. They often swarm around the same time of year, but control measures for each differ greatly. New colonies of subterranean termites form when the old colony produces swarmers or when groups of termites become isolated from the main colony and establish subcolonies. This is called colony splitting. These subcolonies may exist independently or unite with the main colony. Subterranean termites derive their nutrition from wood and other material containing cellulose. Paper, cotton, burlap or other plant products often are actively attacked and consumed by termites. Termites are very attracted to odors of wood-decaying fungi that, through the decay process, make the wood easier to penetrate. In some instances, the fungi provide a source of nitrogen in the termite diet. Any material in direct contact with the soil serves as an avenue of infestation. Subterranean termite swarmers may also be blown into or on structures by the wind and then start a new colony.

Fungus Infection or Dry Rot

fungus-rotDry rot is a weakening of wood caused by one of several species of fungus. The fungus digests the parts of the wood that give the wood strength and stiffness. Weakened wood is typically somewhat dry, hence the name dry rot, and brittle and may have a blocky appearance. Dry rot usually results from too much moisture in contact with wood. The dry rot fungus has the unusual ability to transport water from wet areas to dry areas allowing the fungus to grow in relatively dry wood. If not stopped the dry rot fungus will so weaken wood that it may eventually disintegrate.