The Little-Known, But Extremely Destructive Powderpost Drywood Termite Only Infests Structural Lumber And Wood Furniture, And They Are Swarming Now In Houston
Unlike Formosan subterranean termites that live in colonies located in moist soil, the West Indian drywood termite, or the “powderpost drywood termite” (Cryptotermes brevis) lives in colonies that are entirely contained within single above ground wood items, like all drywood termite species. However, what makes these exotic pests unique among termite species is the fact that they are entirely synanthropic, as their colonies are found solely within finished and/or processed woods, such as structural lumber, decorative wood, and portable wood items like furniture and lumber boards. In other words, the powderpost drywood termite is never found in natural wood sources like fallen branches, stumps or dead portions of trees; instead, these pests only infest finished woodwork, which makes controlling these termite pests a very difficult task.
In Houston, powderpost drywood termite mating swarms occur around dusk during June and July, and their invasive habitat in the country is limited to urban centers along the Gulf Coast, most notably in Houston and New Orleans. Since only swarmers (alates) emerge from enclosed drywood termite colonies, all drywood termite infestations are initiated solely by drywood alates during the swarming season. Most drywood termite swarms emerge from natural wood sources, and a minority emerge from colonies already infesting finished wood sources, but when the powderpost drywood termite species swarms, they only emerge from colonies already located within finished wood. Once powderpost drywood termite swarms emerge, the very few winged alates that survive will initiate new colonies solely in fresh woodwork like wood siding or interior structural wood. In fact, to this day powderpost drywood termite colonies have only been found in natural wood sources on two documented occasions. One of these instances saw researchers recover a colony from a dead tree in Hawaii, while the other was recovered from a stump in Peru. Since powderpost drywood termites are not found in the natural environment, researchers are unable to determine with certainty the native origin of this economically costly termite pest species.
Has your home ever sustained damage from a drywood termite infestation?