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The Trouble with Termites

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Drywood Termites

In the Nick of Time

Drywood termites create small holes, about the size of a BB shot, called kickout or kick holes through which they push small, hexagonal-shaped fecal pellets from their nests. Finding these pellets, which vary in color depending on the type of wood being eaten and typically accumulate on surfaces near the holes or in spider webs below them, is a sure sign of an infestation.

These termites attack and live in sound, dry wood located above soil level. They don't need soil contact or any other source of moisture, as they get what they need from the wood they eat, and they also manufacture some on their own. They're secretive and live deep inside the wood they infest, building small, widely dispersed colonies that can take years to mature. They typically enter homes through attic vents, windowsills and frames, and shingle roofs.

Drywood termites can be difficult to detect as they only show themselves when they swarm or when their nests are disturbed, typically during repair or remodeling work. Their nests, or galleries, have smooth walls, pockets or chambers connects by tunnels that cut across the grain, and few or no surface deposits.

Homes in southern California, southern Arizona, and southern Florida are particularly susceptible to drywood termites, which can infest buildings soon after they're constructed. That said, it can take a very long time for these termites to do much structural damage. If they attack furniture, hardwood floors or wood trim, damage can become apparent in a couple of years or so.

Dampwood Termites

These termites are typically found in fallen or buried logs in forests. They need lots of moisture to survive and are uncommon structural pests, but they will attack forest cabins and beach houses, building their colonies in damp or decaying wood. Once their nests are established, some will attack dry wood as well. Removing the damp or decayed wood and treating nearby soil are effective controls for these pests.

See Taking on Termites to get more help with dealing with these pests.


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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Common Household Disasters © 2005 by Paul Hayman and Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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