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How Drywood Termite Control Methods Fared In Scientific Tests


The western drywood termite (Incisitermes minor) is the most common, destructive and economically costly drywood termite pest species in the western US, as well as the entire country. Like all drywood termite species, the western drywood termite lives in colonies that are entirely contained within single above-ground wood items such as logs, fallen branches, and structural wood in homes and buildings. In addition to lumber components in structures, western drywood termites frequently infest individual lumber boards, wooden furniture, and other finished wood items that are regularly shipped across the country and overseas. Because of this, western drywood termites are frequently found in states and regions well outside of their native southwestern habitat range.

Western drywood termites dwell primarily in urban and suburban areas where colonies are most often found in dead portions of trees, branches, brush, firewood stacks in yards, and structural wood in homes. Controlling drywood termites has always been a challenge, and numerous preventative and remedial drywood termite control methods have been thoroughly studied and introduced to the market over the decades. Although many studies have demonstrated the efficacy of several non-toxic methods of controlling western drywood termites, the use of chemically treated lumber for home construction, and both local and whole-structure fumigations remain the most common.

Public demand for non-toxic pest control tactics has prompted the pest control industry to explore alternative drywood termite treatment methods. These methods include high-heat treatments, liquid nitrogen freeze treatments, and even electrocution. Studies have shown that whole-structure high-heat treatments result in the extermination of well over 90 percent of western drywood termite pests infesting indoor structural wood. While high-heat treatments can result in property damage, such as the warping of plastic pipes and lumber components, damage is minimal and can be avoided with proper preparations.

Unless infested lumber is accessible, liquid nitrogen spot treatments require pest control professionals to drill tiny holes through walls and other materials in order to inject the liquid into infested structural wood components located within inaccessible areas. These holes are inconspicuous and can be filled in with appropriate products, and while more research on freeze treatments for drywood termite control are needed, initial tests were promising. Early research on the efficacy of electrocution, however, proved inadequate for drywood termite control, and electrocution resulted in significant damage to the structural wood components being treated.

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