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The Difference Between Drywood and Formosan Subterranean Termites

Updated on: June 22, 2022

Termites are known to be a pest that plagues homeowners around the globe. To many, termites might seem like they are all the same – they may find it difficult to distinguish between the termite species that seem almost the same, which are drywood and Formosan subterranean termites.

So what are the differences between drywood and Formosan subterranean termites? They generally differ in habitat, appearance, colony size, and behavior. And while Formosan subterranean termites are known to cause more destruction to property than drywood termites, it’s best to get both species removed by a pest control professional.

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Difference between Drywood and Formosan Subterranean Termites

To the average person, it may be difficult to distinguish between drywood termites and Formosan subterranean termites. However, there are a few characteristics that can help you differentiate between the two types.

Habitat

Habitat is the primary difference between drywood and Formosan subterranean termites. Formosan subterranean termites need a source of water to survive and thus live underground, where they burrow and create mud tubes in moist soil. Meanwhile, drywood termites generally don’t need contact with soil and prefer to live inside dry wood. These termites typically don’t thrive in moist environments.

Appearance

Drywood termites have much larger bodies compared to Formosan subterranean termites. Generally, drywood termite swarmers have two sets of wings, and pigmented veins can be seen on the front outer part of their wings. They also have red heads and black bodies. On the other hand, Formosan subterranean termites are either solid black or solid white.

Colony Size

Termites live in colonies with a caste system. They have the larger king and queen termites, protected by termite swarmers or worker termites. Subterranean termite colonies are substantially larger than drywood termite colonies; subterranean termites typically number in the millions, whereas drywood termites are in the hundreds or thousands.

Behavior

Drywood termites are daytime swarmers, while Formosan subterranean termites are nighttime swarmers. A major difference in their eating behavior is that drywood termites leave a velvety texture on wood, while subterranean termites leave a smooth surface.

Formosan subterranean termites are also known to cause more damage than drywood termites. Since Formosan subterranean termites live underneath the soil, they burrow and make mud tubes within and around the foundation of homes, thus creating multiple entryways into structures.

Drywood termites on the other hand, live in the wood itself and are fewer in number, which makes them less destructive. Drywood termites attack hard, dry wood, and typically consume more furniture such as picture frames, bed frames, and wooden objects.

Generally, Formosan subterranean termites are more of a threat to the structure of the property itself because these structures can be bound to the soil underneath them.

Impact of Termites

Termites are responsible for some of the most serious structural damage in the United States. Termites are active 24 hours a day, which is the reason for termite damage being responsible for over $5 billion spent annually on repairs and termite infestation prevention in the United States. Subterranean termites account for a significant portion of the annual expense, with estimates ranging from $1 billion to $2 billion.

Home Remedies to Get Rid of Termites

Termite control can be done by keeping moisture out of areas where water can leak. Fixing leaks and decluttering homes, while keeping furniture away from the soil, can help by shutting out moisture and removing access to food sources for the termites.

If there are already existing termites, there are some remedies you can do at home with common household items which can help with termite infestations. These methods include:

  • White vinegar - Make an anti-termite spray by mixing ½ cup white vinegar with 4 tablespoons of lemon juice. Spray on termites directly, or in areas where termites are seen around the house twice a day.
  • Essential oils - Orange oil, clove oil, and garlic oil are known to be toxic to termites. Soak a cotton ball with any of these essential oils and apply it in termite-infested areas several times a week.
  • Salt - Mixing salt into warm water and applying it to infested areas using a syringe can help keep termite infestations at bay.
  • Boric acid - Known as a common household cleaning chemical, boric acid can also be poisonous to termites. Applying directly to infested areas, or creating a spray solution of ½ boric acid and ½ water can exterminate termites.

If none of these seem to work on your termite problems, it might be time to call a professional pest control company.

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Drywood termites and Formosan subterranean termites are responsible for massive damage to many properties. Drywood termites live in numerous wooden items and have colonies consisting of thousands of termites. Formosan subterranean termites live in moist soil and create mud tubes that lead to your home’s structure. Termite colony sizes reach up to millions and can quickly become a problem because of their voracious appetite.

The most effective way of termite control for your home is to call professional pest control services. PermaKill Exterminating can provide you with expert termite inspection and extermination treatments. Services include soil treatment, wood treatment, and bait control systems. Get in touch with PermaKill Exterminating now by contacting us or visiting our website.

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