Drywood termites leave tell tale signs. Could those holes in your wood be drywood termites?
There are many things that can compromise wood. Water, rough treatment, and pests can damage wood. Often the damage is not noticed until it is significant. How can you tell what is causing the problem?
It helps to understand different types of damage. Water damage is often seen as rot which is actually fungal issues eating away at the wood. The wood will typically darken and have no signs of holes in the wood. Mechanical damage, otherwise known as excessive wear and tear, has dings and dents, possibly some splintering and will be irregular.
If it is drywood termites, there will be small piles of what appears to be sawdust coming out of the wood. These pile occur when the damage is actively taking place.
There are also subterranean termites that enter structures from the ground or via damp soil. These monsters also eat wood but do not have the telltale holes and ‘sawdust’ emerging from the holes.
The sawdust is the key sign for drywood termites as it is actually their excrement being kicked out of their tunnels. Hence, the holes are called kickouts. Drywood termites get all the moisture they need from the wood so they can nest in furniture, structures, etc. Subterranean termites need moisture from soil also so their damage is typically reserved for structures that have contact with soil.
The scary part is that these wood eating creatures can do enormous amounts of invisible damage unless you know what to look for. Catching these suckers early on is paramount to minimizing their carnage. They can have enormous colonies munching away until less than 10% of the original wood is intact!
The ‘sawdust’ coming from the kickout holes is interesting upon close inspection. The excrement is actually six-sided cylinders that look kind of like bullets. As it piles up, it makes tidy little mounds that look just like debris from sawing wood. It will take on the color of the wood being eaten so pine wood will offer light colored piles and cherry wood will produce much darker ones. But the pile is the ticket to knowing what you have.
Treatment options vary between highly toxic tenting at one extreme and using safe, natural products at the other. The extent of the damage can vary widely. Being aware of the signs is very valuable to identify and stop further damage by drywood termites.