Drywood Termites

There are three distinct groups into which termites can be divided:

Drywood Termites – Drywood termites are far less common in Victoria than subterranean termites. They are found mostly in tropical areas with an atmospheric humidity constantly above 75 percent and are rarely seen in Melbourne. They create colonies inside wood, with no connection to the ground necessary and need very little moisture to survive.

Since the worker termites in these groups more or less look the same, the appearance of the reproductive caste (alates) and soldiers is important. Alates have two sets of wings. The front set of wings has a pattern of three or more heavy, well-pigmented veins in the outer part of the front wing. They tend to shed their wings very quickly after landing, so most dead Alate bodies do not have attached wings. This is an important sign that distinguishes Drywood termites from subterranean termites since the latter will consist of dead Alates with and without attached wings.

Drywood termite alates can grow up to 12 mm long. Drywood termite soldiers have large mandibles (mouthparts) with teeth and their pronotum is as wide, or wider, than their heads. Also, most Drywood termite soldiers and workers are larger than the soldiers and workers found in subterranean termite colonies. Drywood termites extract as much moisture as possible from their faeces in order to conserve it. The result is very distinctive faecal pellets called frass. They are a hexagonal shape and all are similar in size, approx 1 mm long. The termites kick the frass pellets out of their tunnels so the appearance of mounds of these pellets is a good indication of current activity.