How To Get Rid Of Drywood Termites? Helpful Tips

Have you got a termite infestation on your hand? Here’s how to get rid of drywood termites so that you can say bye-bye to them permanently!

Do you have a drywood termite infestation at your home? In this article, we list several ways to get rid of those pesky termites from your home and furniture.

Among the common home-infesting pests, drywood termites are possibly the worst.  A drywood termite infestation is a true nightmare for homeowners and can wreak havoc in a matter of days. 

Failing to notice the telltale signs of a termite infestation early can prove to be an expensive mistake. 

Don’t worry, though – we came up with this article specifically to explain how to identify termite infestations and get rid of them.

How To Get Rid Of Drywood Termites? Helpful Tips

Understanding Drywood Termites

Let’s first learn about this species of termites for a better understanding. As you can probably guess from the name, these termites infest objects and structures made from dried wood. 

This means almost all the wooden structures in your home – furniture, door frames, window frames, wood flooring, wooden beams, etc. are vulnerable.

Drywood termites grow up to about half an inch, with the color ranging from light brown to reddish or dark brown. 

However, the reproductive males and females can grow longer. Like any type of termite, they live in colonies. 

The members of a drywood termite colony have various roles and can be identified accordingly – swarmers, soldiers, workers, and reproductive (king and queen) members.

A majority of the members in a termite colony are workers, who are also responsible for most of the damage. 

They produce cellulose for the nest by chewing wood from the structure they’re infesting. They grow up to 3/16th of an inch and are of a lighter color. 

Soldier termites are slightly larger, growing up to about a fourth of an inch. They have serrated mandibles that they use to fight intruders.

The swarmers are reproductive termites that leave the colony to create a new one. They have two sets of equally long wings and fly around together in large swarms.

How To Get Rid Of Drywood Termites? Helpful Tips

Drywood Termites Damage

The destructiveness of termites stems from the fact that they not only nest in wood but also feed on it throughout their life cycle. 

Termite damage can sometimes be hard to detect as these pests dig vast galleries of tunnels inside wood structures and eat them from the inside out. They just leave a thin layer of wood on the surface, thus turning the structure hollow.

1.    Vulnerable Spots

One of the biggest problems with drywood termites is that they infest almost any wood they come across. From wooden cabinets, cases, and picture frames to flooring, decks, and siding, everything is vulnerable to termite damage. 

A heavy termite infestation can easily destroy a home by causing severe structural damage to it. However, chestnut, cedar, honey mesquite, black walnut, and black cherry woods are termite resistant.

2.    Symptoms of Termite Damage

Given that termites are good at concealing their damage, you might be wondering how to identify wooden structures infested by these pests. Common symptoms of termite damage include:

  • The damaged wood will make a hollow noise when tapped on.
  • You will usually find plenty of frass (black fecal pellets) near a hole dug by termites.
  • Damaged floorboards, doors, and tiles often make squeaking noises.
  • You’ll find a lot of broken wings from the swarmers.

If you suspect a termite infestation but aren’t sure, consider arranging for a professional inspection.

How To Get Rid Of Drywood Termites? Helpful Tips

How To Treat Drywood Termites

Once you identify a termite infestation in your home, you need to work on treating it immediately. The longer the infestation remains, the harder it gets to deal with. Here are a few solutions that work against termites:

3.    Spraying insecticides

You may treat a termite infestation using a professional borate-based insecticide. These insecticides are also effective at protecting wood from termite damage. 

However, this method works only for raw or untreated wood. The insecticide works by seeping into the wood, which isn’t possible with sealed, stained, or painted wood surfaces, but you may sand off the treated surface to expose untreated wood and apply the pesticide.

Prepare the insecticide solution by mixing the product with water in a 5-gallon bucket in a 1:1 ratio. 

It’s advisable to use hot water for better mixing, as borate-based insecticides can be quite viscous. Once the mixture is ready, use a hand pump to spray it onto the surface of the wood. Apply at least two coats of the solution for effective results.

4.    Drilling and filling

This method is a good alternative when spraying a borate-based insecticide isn’t a viable option. Instead, you can drill holes in the wood until you reach the termite tunnels and fill them with the insecticide. You can seal back the holes using caulk, wall putty, or other sealing materials.

How To Get Rid Of Drywood Termites? Helpful Tips

5.    Removing the infested wood

If the damage is already beyond repair, you can simply remove or replace the infested wood. 

This simple solution is especially convenient when the damage hasn’t spread much and the infested area is easy to access.

If DIY solutions fail to deliver the desired results, you should consider calling a professional.

Drywood Termites Treatment Costs

Besides the devastating nature of termite damage, the cost of treating a termite infestation is another major problem for homeowners. 

You may potentially have to shell out up to around USD 1,500 to treat a severe infestation. Thankfully, it’s not always the case, and the cost usually ranges between USD 230 and USD 930, with the average cost being USD 570. 

A professional termite exterminator can give you a more accurate estimate after carrying out an inspection.

How To Get Rid Of Drywood Termites? Helpful Tips

How To Kill Drywood Termites

If you are looking for DIY solutions to kill drywood termites, here are a few that you may try:

  • Remove food sources: If the termite problem is still at an early stage and your home hasn’t been infested yet, you can deny them a viable food source. Get rid of cardboard items and treat wooden structures to make the wood unsuitable for consumption.
  • Boric acid: Boric acid can effectively kill termites by damaging their digestive and reproductive systems. You can apply it in small amounts in areas infested with termites such that it can seep through cracks and crevices.
  • Get rid of excess moisture: Having too much moisture in your home is the reason behind numerous potential pest problems, including termites. Fix HVAC leaks and keep your home dry, as termites cannot survive without moisture.

Fumigation works against termites too, but it is quite risky and may result in toxic exposures.

How To Get Rid of Drywood Termites in Furniture

Termites infesting your furniture can be a huge nuisance, resulting in expensive repairs or even requiring you to replace the furniture entirely. Here are a few ways to carry out termite treatment on furniture:

  • You may mix 0.1% of permethrin in paint or varnish and coat the furniture with it.
  • Treating the furniture with chemicals like boric acid can kill termites. However, please exercise caution, as boric acid can be toxic to humans and pets.
  • Turn on the heating and warm up your home as much as possible – it will kill the termites. Alternatively, you can just leave the furniture outdoors for two to three days during sunny weather. Termites cannot survive the heat of the sunlight for long.
  • If you have access to a freezer large enough to accommodate the piece of furniture, you can freeze the termites to death. If necessary and possible, you may have to disassemble the furniture. Using liquid nitrogen is more convenient, but not everyone has access to the necessary equipment.

Once again, you might want to consider roping in a professional if the infestation seems to be getting out of hand.

How To Get Rid Of Drywood Termites? Helpful Tips

How To Prevent Drywood Termites

Let’s now explore the preventive measures that you can take to protect your home and your belongings from termites.

  • Choose home materials carefully: When building a home, avoid using wood as much as possible to reduce the risk of termite attacks. Use metal or plastic instead, at least to cover the sidings. If you have to use wood, at least choose pressure-treated wood to make it harder for the termites to damage.
  • Don’t leave any exposed wood: Exposed wood is not only more attractive to termites but is also more vulnerable to termite damage. Paint or seal all the exposed wood to prevent drywood termites.
  • Get the property inspected: It’s a good idea to arrange for at least an annual inspection of your property by pest-control professionals. Regular inspections help identify the signs of an infestation early on.

If you notice termites in or around your home, treat your wooden furniture and structures with pesticides or boric acid.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Get Rid of Drywood Termites Without Tenting?

Although tenting has been used in termite treatment for a long time, there are several drawbacks to it. 
Thankfully, you have several alternative methods like boric acid treatment, spraying borate-based insecticides, heat treatment, frost treatment, etc. 
Besides these, you can hire professional exterminators for drywood termite control.

Are drywood termites hard to get rid of?

This depends on the size of the colony and the scale of the infestation. It’s relatively easier to get rid of drywood termites when the infestation is at an early stage and hasn’t spread much. 
However, heavy infestations are very hard to deal with, and you may have to spend a large sum on termite treatment.

Do drywood termites spread?

Yes, drywood termites can spread quite fast. Besides spreading to nearby wooden structures and objects, the reproductive males and females can also fly long distances in swarms. 
Besides, termites often spread through the transportation of infested furniture too.

What is the fastest way to get rid of termites naturally?

The fastest way to get rid of termites naturally is to apply small amounts of boric acid in infested areas. You should apply the acid near termite holes and cracks through which it can easily seem deep into the wood.

How To Get Rid Of Drywood Termites? Helpful Tips

Wrap Up

Now that you are better informed about drywood termite treatment, you should be able to deal with an infestation more effectively. 

Besides them, also look out for other types of termites like damp wood and subterranean termites. 

If you ever notice termite droppings or any other signs of a termite infestation, carry out a thorough inspection immediately. 

Being proactive in termite prevention and treatment can save you a lot of money. Thank you for reading, and we hope the methods listed here will help you resolve your termite problem!

Reader Emails

A lot of readers have asked us ways to get rid of drywood termites over the years. Go through some of their emails below, and you might just learn some new tricks yourself!

Letter 1 – Termite Alates

 

Small flying insect with large wing-to-body ratio Location:  Malibu, CA October 7, 2010 8:45 pm Hi bugman! I was hiking today and suddenly surrounded by these guys. Their swarm was actually kind of magical, they looked like mystical cartoon bugs with only wings and no bodies! I found a few congregated on the ground and got a good picture. What is this bug? I’ve never seen anything like it! Signature:  Thanks, -Kali
Termite Alates
Hi Kali, These are Termite Alates, the reproductive kings and queens on their nuptial flight.  Each pair may become the start of a new colony, or they might continue to live in the parent colony.  There are often multiple royal couples in established colonies.  The alpha Queen can become massive, something you would never expect from such lithe virginal adolescents.  Most of these Alates will not become new colonies, instead becoming an important link in the food chain.  They are preyed upon by bats, swallows and other insectivores including lizards and spiders and many other native creatures.
Termite Alates

Letter 2 – Termite Alates

 

What are these? Location: Louisiana / Texas April 12, 2012 11:22 am Hello, We have been seeing these bugs once a year every year and cannot figure out what they are! The show up in a swarm one day, first with wings and then they lose them. They are everywhere for one day and then we find them dead. We were finding them in the house by the base boards and on the carpet, but this year they stayed outside for the most part, still close to the ground on the walls. Do you have any idea what they are? Signature: Stumped
Termite Alate
Dear Stumped, This is the winged reproductive form of a Termite.  After swarming and mating, they shed their wings and begin a new colony.  If you keep finding them in your home, you must have an established colony that releases a reproductive swarm, generally on a warm sunny day after a rain.
Termite Alates
 

Letter 3 – Termite Alate from Australia

 

Subject: Bugs Location: Melbourne, Australia December 18, 2013 3:58 am Hey bugman, These bugs seem to come out in force every year in our house around this time of the year or when it is hot. They seem to be attracted to light but they tend to fly towards them. Would you happen to know what these are? Signature: Jeremy
Termite Alate
Termite Alate
Hi Jeremy, This sure looks to us like a Termite Alate, a member of the winged reproductive caste.  When conditions are right, Termite Alates, the future queens and kings of new colonies, will swarm, mate and establish new nests.

Letter 4 – Giant Robber Fly eats Termite Alate in California

 

Subject:  Big Fly, Wasp, or other? Geographic location of the bug:  Truckee, CA Date: 06/30/2021 Time: 05:54 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  I had this large flying insect land on my porch and it appeared to be eating a flying ant. The unknown insect almost looked like a large, elongated horse fly but it might have had a stinger. It had brightly colored orange/red legs How you want your letter signed:  Ross
Giant Robber Fly eats Termite Alate
Dear Ross, We enjoyed researching your query, but we are only confident with our identification of your Robber Fly to the family level, though we are gambling that we have also correctly identified the genus.  We believe this is a Giant Robber Fly in the genus Promachus and it looks very similar to this unidentified individual posted to BugGuide as well as this unidentified individual in our own archives, both unidentified individuals having been sighted in California.  California Robbers identifies four species of Promachus from California, however none of those have red legs.  We suspect this might be either an undescribed species or possibly a species not previously identified in California.  The prey is a reproductive Termite alate, probably the Western Drywood Termite which is pictured on the UC Master Gardeners website.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide a more conclusive identification. Thank you for the information! I found this all quite interesting!

Letter 5 – Termite Alate

 

Subject: Are they termites? Location: Los Angeles, CA December 6, 2012 3:56 pm Hi! This morning I woke up and saw a bunch of these between my window and window screen. I got them all outside of the window and closed it, but when checked later, a few more showed up between the screen and the window. I don’t know how they got there! I made sure my window was locked. Also, it rained a few days ago and my window sill contains soil but no plants. Are they termites or flying ants? Would I need to leave my building to have them exterminated? Are they harmful to people? Thanks! Sorry I couldn’t get good photos. I didn’t want to get close to them! Signature: Clueless
Termite Alate
Dear Clueless, You are not giving yourself enough credit.  You are correct.  This is a Termite, more specifically a Termite Alate, the winged reproductive caste.  You can tell by your photograph that it is a sunny day.  Termites often swarm on a warm sunny day immediately after a good rain.  You probably have a colony somewhere in the house if the swarm appeared indoors.  You might want to consider professional assistance.  We believe this is the Pacific Coast Dampwood Termite, Zootermopsis angusticollis, which you may read about on BugGuide.

Letter 6 – Termite Alate

 

Subject: Flying four legged insect Location: Bay area October 15, 2016 10:32 am It’s fall in Northern California. A storm just ended, and these bugs started popping up all along the neighborhood. Ideas? Signature: Geoffrey Zhang
Termite Alate
Termite Alate
Dear Geoffrey, Termite Alates, the reproductive males and females, frequently swarm after rains.  Because we must be away from the office for several days, we are post-dating your submission to go live later in the week while we are traveling.

Letter 7 – Termite Alate

 

Subject:  Dead flies on the floor Geographic location of the bug:  Southern California Date: 10/01/2018 Time: 05:02 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I’ve been finding these flies on my kitchen floor a lot lately. They’re always either dead or dying and I’ve never seen them flying or anywhere else. Sometimes there will only be one or two and other times there will be as many as 20. I’d really like to put a stop to it but I guess the first step is to identify what they actually are. If you could help that would be great.  Thanks in advance! How you want your letter signed:  David
Termite Alate
Dear David, This is not a Fly.  It is a Termite alate, the winged reproductive caste, which would indicate you have a Termite colony in your home, possibly in wood that has had water damage due to a leaky pipe in the past.  Based on this Natural History of Orange County page, we believe it is a Western Drywood Termite, Incisitermes minor.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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