A week or so after moving in, we decided to have lunch outside on our patio. When we went to sit down, though, we noticed a small amount of what looked like grains of sand or fine pebbles. We were both rather confused having never seen this before, and figured maybe it was just something that had blown on to the patio. Although strangely it was mostly on top of our patio table and chairs. We swept it up and went on with our lunch, not thinking too much about it.
Fast forward a week, same story with a little bit more of this sand/dust/whatever. Now I'm becoming concerned. The house had undergone spot treatments for termites before we bought it and we hadn't seen any evidence of wood damage. I got up on our ladder and try as I might, could find no holes in the beams above us. I really could not find another explanation for this "stuff" so started searching the web about termites and found this...
|Not our house, but similar|
So we called the exterminator the seller had used for a retreatment (they guaranteed the service for a full year, thank goodness we insisted on getting the full order form including guarantee information!) and had them drop by to take a look. Talking with the exterminator, it seems that drywood termites are unusual in that while subterranean termites will just invade huge areas, and often whole house treatment is needed, drywood termites prefer to work on one piece of wood at a time. He had treated many houses, where one timber was fully infested, directly adjoining pieces were untouched. Either way, he drilled a few holes into the suspect beam (we finally did find their tiny poop chute, "kick hole" is the proper term) and foamed them.
This is what the inside of drywood termite infested wood looks like. Pretty amazing. Let's hope that's not what the inside of our patio beams look like!
If you want to learn way more than I can put here about termites (granted this paper focuses on Southeastern US species), here's a paper from Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities.
So far, no more frass anywhere... but we'll keep our fingers crossed...or better yet...knock on wood!