How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

What is the difference between a subterranean termite and a drywood termite?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Subterranean termites live in large colonies in the ground and come up into the house to feed on wood. They are dependent on water and a moist environment to survive, and construct narrow mud tubes that run up to reach the wood structure to protect them against dehydration. Subterraneans form their colonies and consume wood much faster than drywood termites. 

    The range of treatments for subterranean termites includes perimeter chemical barriers, which are either placed in the soil surrounding the house or pumped into the concrete block foundation through drilled holes. Baiting systems that utilize in-ground canisters containing poisoned wood can also be installed encircling the home to reduce or eliminate a termite infestation.

    Drywood termites live in nests inside the walls or attic, and do not require a water source in the ground to survive. They establish their colonies and consume the wood slower than subterraneans.

    If only one small area of Drywood Termite damage is discovered during a WDO inspection the pest control operator may choose to either remove and replace the affected wood or do a "spot" chemical treatment in the surrounding area only. However if multiple areas or a larger area of damage are noted, tenting would be the appropriate treatment, and the only way to be absolutely sure you have eliminated the infestation is tenting. 

    The tenting process involves completely covering the structure with tarp panels to create a sealed volume of air, then pumping in a fumigant gas. Vikane, Master Fume and Zythor are a few common brand names, and the active ingredient in all of them is sulfuryl fluoride. The gas kills just about anything living inside the tented area, including roaches, ants, and small lizards, but it provides no residual protection after the tent is removed.

    Heat can also be used to kill Drywood Termites within the wall framing and is another option that is occasionally chosen. Tenting and heating the interior of the structure to approximately 140º F will produce a temperature inside the wood framing members of about 120º F that kills both the termites and their eggs.

    Also see our blog post Should I be worried about termites if my neighbor's house is being tented?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •  

To learn more about termites, see these other blog posts:

Do termites eat concrete?

What is a clean WDO?  

What do termites eat?

Is the WDO (termite) inspector allowed to poke holes in my wood siding and trim? 

Do carpenter ants cause structural damage to houses in Florida?

How long before closing can you have a WDO (termite) inspection done?

How long does Bora-Care® last? 

 Why is it a mistake to store lumber in the crawl space under a house?

Does the presence of carpenter ants in a house indicate that there are probably also termites? 

How do termites infest a house and remain hidden while doing major damage?

Are homes in Florida required to have termite protection? 

If termite damage appears to be old, does that mean that termites may no longer be present?

How do I know if my WDO/termite report is "clear"? 

When do termites swarm in Florida?

Does a recent termite company inspection sticker mean there are no termites? 

Can a mobile/manufactured home get termites?

Do I have to tent the house if I have termites? 

What are the green plastic discs in the ground around the house? 

What is a termite shield?

How do termites get into a concrete block house? 

How do I treat wood rot  that's listed in my termite-WDO report? 

Do I really need a termite-WDO inspection? 

What's causing those holes in the fascia?

Does wood chip mulch in the yard attract termites?

I think I have termites. What does a termite look like?

I'm buying a concrete block house. Do I still need a termite inspection? 

• I saw a little termite damage on the baseboard. Should I be concerned?

   Visit our TERMITES, WOOD ROT AND PESTS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.  

Water Heaters

Water Heater Age

"What Are The

Signs Of..."

Septic Tank Systems

Structure and Rooms

Plumbing Pipes

Termites, Wood Rot

& Pests



When It First

Became Code

"Should I Buy A..."

Park Model Homes


Shingle Roofs




Wind Mitigation

Roof and Attic

"Does A Home


Pool and Spa

"What Is The Difference Between..."




Concrete and

Concrete Block

Metal Roofs


Modular Homes

Rain Gutters

Mold, Lead & Other Contaminants


Older and

Historic Houses

Crawl Spaces

Mobile-Manufactured Homes

Building Permits

Life Expectancy

Clay Soil





Exterior Walls

& Structures


Common Problems

HUD-Code for

Mobile Homes

Garages and Carports

Flat (Low Slope) Roofs

Electrical Panels

Sprinkler Systems

Electrical Receptacle Outlets

4-Point Inspections

Hurricane Resistance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Home Inspection

Heating and Air Conditioning

Building Codes

Fireplaces and Chimneys

Inspector Licensing

& Standards

Energy Efficiency

Washers and Dryers



Doors and Windows



Electrical Wiring

Click Below  

for Links

to Collections

of Blog Posts

by Subject

Plumbing Drains

and Traps


Smoke & CO Alarms

Aging in Place

Top 5 results given instantly.

Click on magnifying glass

for all search results.






Air Conditioner & Furnace Age/Size


Electrical Switches





Water Intrusion

Electrical - Old

and Obsolete


Foundation Certifications

Tiny Houses

About McGarry and Madsen



Buying a home in North/Central Florida? Check our price for a  team inspection by two FL-licensed contractors and inspectors. Over 8,500 inspections completed in 20+ years. In a hurry? We will get it done for you.

Moisture Problems

Crawl Spaces