Drywood Termites

Knowledge of the Drywood Termite Helped Us Solve An Infestation in Minnesota

In early October 2012, we found winged termites, known as alates, flying in a home in South Minneapolis. In accordance with the best management practices (BMPs), we started by identifying the termite species. Based on a close examination, we identified the termites as western drywood termites, Incisitermes minor (Hagen).Once the termite species was identified, we immediately conducted a thorough inspection to determine the source and the extent of the infestation. In places where winters temperatures are maintained at or below 15°F for at least four days, drywood termites will not survive. Due to the cold winter in Minnesota, we doubted that drywood termites would actually establish nests in roof materials, wooden walls, under eaves or in dead wood accumulated around the homes, therefore, we decided to look for drywood termite signs, such as fecal pellets (hexagonal in shape, about 3/100 inch long), small round openings (kick holes, about 1/16 inch long) in wooden products, and articles inside the house where extreme cold is unlikely to occur.

After careful inspection, we located kick holes and an accumulation of fecal pellets below and around a couch placed in the living room. Since these signs were not found anywhere else in the house, we concluded that the source of the infestation is the couch. Interestingly, the infestation was initially started about 14 years ago, when the couch was initially purchased. Since drywood termites are not native to Minnesota, we assumed that the couch was originally made or stored in a warehouse in one of the hot spots for drywood termites, such as in the Southern states, where it could have become infested. This delayed development of these kinds of termites is not abnormal. Usually, it takes the colony of drywood termites four to seven years to produce swarmers. Besides low temperatures, the low nutrient content inside the couch makes the development rate of these insects even slower.

There are a variety of chemical and non-chemical treatment options for drywood termites. The sensitivity of the surfaces to be treated, extent/severity of the infestation, non-target’s concerns to pesticides and their residue, and the cost of treatment dictate the selection of the best feasible technique for remediation. In our case, since we were dealing with drywood termites in a contained area (couch), a heat chamber treatment was the safest and most convenient way to remove the pest in a fast and inexpensive manner. We placed the couch inside our indoor heat chamber and exposed it to hot air of 120 to 140°F. Using wireless sensors, the heat process was monitored. After that, we held the core temperature of the treated couch at 120°F for at least one hour. This treatment can eliminate drywood termites without the need for pesticide applications.

Pest identification, biology, habits, as well as thorough inspection and proper treatment are skills needed for a successful pest management approach. We ended up saving our customer a lot of money, by inspecting and know the habit of the termites. We were able to treat just the couch, instead of in the walls of her house.

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